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key sectors  

Northumberland is home to leading global industries with businesses operating in globally competitive supply chains, and unique assets for large scale investment linking into the wider economy of North of Tyne. This includes major employers on Tyneside and innovation and skill strengths from world class universities.


With over 100,000 employees and over 11,000 active businesses the majority of our businesses are micro or small. The economy comprises 19% employment in the public sector and 81% in the private sector. The largest sector is health, employing 18,000 people (16% of our employment), followed closely by tourism, employing just over 17,000 (15%). Our Manufacturing sector is strong, sustaining 12,000 employees, equating to 11% of employment and this is mirrored by our retail sector.  


For further information read Northumberland’s Economic Strategy 2019-2024

Northumberland's key business sectors include:

Offshore wind and energy

The offshore, renewables and oil and gas sectors in Northumberland are thriving and Northumberland is well placed to develop and demonstrate the innovation required to deliver emerging energy technologies. Oil and gas companies based here have grown despite recent market turbulence through innovation and diversification. Organisations include Royal IHC, Osbit, and Deep Ocean.

Blyth is already a significant base and home to the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult, the national centre for offshore wind turbine testing located at the heart of Energy Central which is being promoted as the premier offshore energy base at the Port of Blyth.  Companies operating in our renewables sector include EDF Energy, Lynemouth Power and Estover Energy. The Catapult’s unique facilities, research and engineering capabilities bring together industry and academia, driving  innovation.

Health and life sciences

Northumberland is home to a significant group of businesses in the health and life sciences sector providing the opportunity to deliver new solutions to health and ageing challenges in rural and urban settings.


Northumberland has particular strengths in pharmaceuticals, an integrated part of the overall Life Science Sector.  The North East employs between 4,300 and 5,300 in pharmaceuticals and contributes £450 to £790 million to the region’s Gross Value Added (GVA). Including indirect and induced effects, the industry supports between 18,800 and 23,500 jobs across the UK and £0.73 and £1.28 billion to the UK economy.


Northumberland is home to a growing cluster of major medical manufacturing firms in this sector, including MSD, Aesica, Pirimal and Arcinova utilising some of the most advanced manufacturing and packaging facilities in the world.

The Researchers

Advanced manufacturing

Northumberland is home to a vibrant advanced manufacturing industry with businesses at the cutting edge of new markets and also niche producers of high quality traditional manufacturing output.  Our manufacturing base is over 11% of the economy compared to 8% nationally.


The sector’s footprint is countywide and employment centres around South East Northumberland with the majority of the county’s major manufacturing employers located in this area.  Each main town in Northumberland has international manufacturing businesses including major companies such as Egger in Hexham, Coca Cola in Morpeth and Simpsons Malt in Berwick.

Tourism and creative industries

Northumberland’s tourism and creative sector is internationally recognised, our culture and tourism businesses support over 15,000 jobs and underpin a sector that welcomed 10.3m visitors during 2017, a 6% increase on 2016.  Spend by visitors to the county has also increased up 6% on 2016 at £925.84m.


In 2018 Northumberland was named Best County/Destination of the Year at the British Travel awards, having been runner-up for the previous four years.

The accolades for the county keep coming with The Times and The Sunday Times naming Northumberland as one of the best holiday destinations for 2019 - alongside places like Cuba, Japan, Mexico, Hong Kong, New York!!


Northumberland’s land based sector is a vital part of the economy and is a fundamental part of what makes the county unique and attractive. This includes our strengths in forestry, farming and fisheries.


Northumberland has a significant land based economy providing considerable opportunities for agri-tech businesses, particularly within precision agriculture and forestry.  

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