In the first event of the 2009 Regional Insights programme, CURDS and One NorthEast welcomed Professor Susan Christopherson (Cornell University) to the region to reflect on her research into 'phoenix industries' in the US. Dubbed 'phoenix' industries - Susan explained how many new industries have spawned from older and often perceived as declining conventional mass manufacturing activities in upstate New York. Thus, whilst the mass manufacturing jobs have been lost, these industries have left a valuable legacy - 'phoenix activities'.
Picture: Professor Susan Christopherson (left), Dr David Hewitt (centre) and Dr Stan Higgins (right)
Susan's presentation focused down on the following Phoenix industries:
Across these sectors, Susan's work has identified the importance of long term investments in university research and engineering programs and in workforce skills (as well as the existence of critical business support services) have produced new industries, focused on process and product innovation and business services.
In so doing, Susan's work began to reflect on h ow and why 'phoenix' industries can help us understand and enhance the resilience of regions and their economic bases.
The presentation was then followed by two insightful contributions from representatives of the North East's very own phoenix industries: Marine Design and the Process Industries cluster.
Firstly, Dr David Hewitt explained how the region's current strength in Marine Design has emerged as a legacy from the region's former strength's in ship building. As a result the Marine Design Centre now represents and supports over 20 of the region's marine design companies and draws upon the long history, international reputation and critical mass of design skills in the North East.
Picture: Dr David Hewitt, Marine Design Centre
Second, Dr Stan Higgins offered a similar analysis of how the region's current strength in process industries, both directly and indirectly emerge from the long history of petrochemical activity in the region, especially on Teesside. As a result, the North East Process Industries Cluster (NEPIC) now represents and supports over 400 companies across a process industries footprint including a variety of allied sectors, ranging from biofuels to pharmaceuticals.
Published: 29th January 2009