Korea Ambassadors Visit Narec

Two Ambassadors have been given an in-depth insight into the North East’s expertise and exporting prowess during a two-day visit hosted by UK Trade & Investment.

Korea Ambassadors Visit Narec

Scott Wightman, the British Ambassador to the Republic of Korea and Sungnam Lim, the Republic of Korea’s Ambassador to the UK, were in the North East to learn more about what the region has to offer in a bid to develop stronger trade relationships.

During the visit, the Ambassadors were given a tour of Whessoe Engineering Ltd, a subsidiary of Samsung C&T, in Darlington. Whessoe specialises in the design of large, full containment cryogenic storage tanks enabling the very low temperature storage of liquefied gases such as (Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and Ethane in the Oil & Gas and Petrochemicals industries.

Following a presentation of Samsung and Whessoe’s joint approach to developing and executing engineering design and projects from the North East of England, the Ambassadors took a leading role in an interactive discussion with a wide range of Whessoe staff addressing subjects such as market growth and focus; cultural synergies and effective collaboration.

Steve Kim, Whessoe CEO, said: “It was a real honour and pleasure to be able to demonstrate to both Ambassadors the progress our companies have made in the last year and to seek their input to our growth plans in Darlington for the near future.”

The Ambassadors also took time out of their busy schedule to meet representatives of UKTI partners in the region, including the North East LEP and Tees Valley Unlimited, North East Chamber of Commerce and other business organisations as well as local businesses, at a special lunchtime reception at the Gateshead Hilton Hotel.

The tour included visits to the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult’s National Renewable Energy Centre (Narec) in Blyth, to look at the work being done to develop offshore wind, wave and tidal energy technologies across the UK.

The Ambassadors toured the class-leading 15MW wind turbine nacelle testing facility designed to improve the understanding of turbine reliability and power performance through accelerated lifetime testing in a full scale, controlled environment.

Korea and Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) are emerging powers in the offshore wind sector. SHI is a key player in the domestic and international marketplace investing across the renewables spectrum. Its commitment to the sector and the UK was reinforced when it announced it would be the commissioning partner of ORE Catapult’s 15MW test facility at Narec in addition to being the first commercial client.

Tony Quinn, Operations Director at ORE Catapult, said: “Being able to show the Ambassadors around the facility today was very beneficial in highlighting the capability for advancing drivetrain technology and the offshore wind industry both in the UK and Korea.

“Providing a controlled environment which allows manufacturers to conduct accelerated lifetime testing, replicating extreme conditions and fatigue damage equivalent to its design life in a short period, plays a very significant role with their technology development and route to market.”

The Ambassadors also visited Newcastle University, where they were welcomed by Vice-Chancellor, Professor Chris Brink and were given a tour of the research facilities in the University’s School of Marine Science and Technology (MAST), which boasts the UK’s biggest marine engineering department.

An agreement between MAST and the Korean Institute for Advancement of Technology (KIAT) will see 10 Korean postgraduate students begin their training in offshore engineering at Newcastle University from September 2015.

Building on the region’s maritime heritage and Newcastle University’s world-leading expertise in marine engineering, the university is leading the development of the Neptune National Centre for Subsea and Offshore Engineering on the banks of the River Tyne.

Professor Nick Wright, Newcastle University’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation, who is leading the project, said: “Newcastle University has a long tradition of applied engineering research focused on the marine sector, reflecting the history and tradition of both the university and the region.

“Our interests also align very well with local businesses and one of the things we’ll use the centre for is student projects which will give them exposure to the North East’s substantial industrial cluster of offshore and subsea engineering.”

British Ambassador to South Korea, Scott Wightman, said: “These Korean investments in North East England demonstrate how the growing partnership between the UK and Korea is creating jobs and new export opportunities. It was exciting too to meet so many companies from the North East determined to grow their businesses through exporting. The UKTI team in the Embassy in Seoul looks forward to helping them seize the opportunities from the EU-Korea Free Trade Agreement.”

Korean Ambassador to the UK, Sungnam Lim, said: “Since President Park’s state visit to the UK last year, the trade, investment and collaboration between Korea and the UK are at record levels. We look forward to many more years of enhanced Korea-UK cooperation and a doubling of trade and investment by 2020.

“With an attractive investment environment as well as Korea-EU FTA, Korea acts as a gateway for UK firms seeking to enter surrounding markets such as China and Japan.”

David Coppock, UKTI’s Regional Director added: “We are delighted to have been able to welcome the Ambassadors to the North East and provide a showcase of what the region and its companies have to offer in terms of knowledge and expertise in a wide range of sectors.

“By enlisting the support of Ambassadors, both here and overseas, we can help promote North East businesses in more markets as part of our continued efforts to boost international trade. We want to make it easier for the region’s companies to export and easier for overseas firms to invest here, thus helping the economy grow.” 

Press release, May 28, 2014; Image: Narec
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