Portuguese Ambassador visit forges links with North East businesses

Author - Jasmin Brown

Date published:

The Portuguese Ambassador Manuel Lobo Antunes visited the North East at the joint invitation of Sage Gateshead and North East England Chamber of Commerce to see at first hand innovative business development and culture in the region as well as exploring opportunities for closer economic links. 

Hosted by North East England Chamber of Commerce, the Ambassador’s tour started at Port of Blyth he heard about the innovations in renewable energy. He then visited the Britishvolt site in Cambois, which is planned to be one of the country’s largest electric battery production facilities. 

The Ambassador explained Portugal is Europe’s largest source of Lithium Reserves a key component in electric battery production. He said: “During my stay I witnessed the strong economic reforms to which the North East is visibly committed, with the contribution and dedication of a skilled and enthusiastic working force. In this regard, I wish to highlight in particular the visits I paid to the Port of Blyth, to the site of the Britishvolt where a latest generation of batteries will soon be manufactured for internal and external markets , but also to Newcastle Helix a place where new technologies meet the needs and expectations of our contemporary world. 

“All these visits and meetings were rewarding. I found commitment, enthusiasm and confidence in the future.  

“Moreover, these three area-projects present valuable opportunities for cooperation with Portugal.  We are a country which is also investing significantly in renewable energies – solar and offshore -, holding significant reserves of lithium for the production of batteries and willing to develop its own technology in this area. In addition, the Portuguese government is heavily supporting a new generation of young entrepreneurs who wish to invest in innovative technologies in life sciences or Technology, Information and Communications, for example.” 

Lesley Moody, MBE, Chamber President (AES Digital Solutions) said: “It was a great honour to have the Ambassador in our region which I understand was his first visit here.  It was interesting to hear that he saw many similarities in the North East to Portuguese cities where there are also many start-ups businesses and young entrepreneurs.  It was a pleasure to be able to showcase our region’s major innovations and we look forward to developing further business links in the future.” 

The visit also included the opportunity for the Ambassador to see North East excellence in scientific innovation at the Newcastle Helix development. NGI explained about the ongoing growth at site and he also heard at first hand from companies about the growth in ageing, digital and fintech services there. 

Sage Gateshead hosted a concert, the first with their new director and conductor Dinis Sousa who is Portuguese. 

Abigail Pogson, Managing director of Sage Gateshead said: “We are delighted that our close relationship with the Chamber has secured this important trade and cultural visit to the North East by the Ambassador of Portugal and his team. This shows that arts and culture are important for attracting potential inward investment in new technologies and have a vital role to play in our region’s recovery. 

The Ambassador also saw the Portuguese cultural artefacts which are part of the art collection at Ushaw Hall in Durham including a range of religious Portuguese Artifacts, including a coded dowry letter on ceding Bombay to the UK as part of Catherine of Braganza’s marriage to Charles II.

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