International defence and security company Leonardo has opened its 8th site in the UK, a high-technology science and engineering facility in the Newcastle Helix innovation cluster.

Located in the ‘Spark’ development, Leonardo Newcastle will focus on the research, development and prototyping of Leonardo’s next generation sensing, security and vertical lift products, many of which will incorporate emerging digital and data technologies.

The site will connect to Leonardo’s other scientific research and manufacturing sites around the country via the secure cloud, linking into the company’s nationwide network of data-driven engineering projects.

At an event today to announce the opening of the new site, Leonardo was joined by community, government and industry leaders including Councillor Veronica Dunn, the Lord Mayor of Newcastle, the Rt. Hon Justine Greening, Chair of The Purpose Coalition, Stephen Phipson CBE, Chief Executive of Make UK and Professor Paul Watson, Director of the National Innovation Centre for Data and Professor of Computer Science at Newcastle University.

Best known for its onshore production of UK military helicopters and the cutting-edge electronics on-board Royal Air Force aircraft, Leonardo has 8,500 UK-based employees and is one of the biggest suppliers to the UK Ministry of Defence. The company is at the heart of the Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP), the initiative by the UK, Italy and Japan to produce a new 6th generation fighter jet to go into service in 2035, and its cyber security business has been trusted for decades to protect the nation’s sensitive information.

In Newcastle, as well as delivering for its customers, Leonardo plans to get involved with regional SMEs, charities, social mobility programmes, schools and academia, replicating how it has operated in other UK towns and cities, from Yeovil in the South West to Edinburgh in Scotland.

Leonardo is a founding member of the newly-established North East Regional Defence and Security Cluster (NERDSC), which aims to drive further investment in the region and support those already located locally to secure defence and security contracts.

Leonardo continues to recruit from Newcastle and the wider North-East region. The site will be home to at least 200 staff and the company is keen to grow beyond this in future. As well as recruiting people who are already highly capable, Leonardo will be investing in up-skilling, training employees in the latest digital engineering practices so that they’re fully equipped for the fourth industrial revolution.

Leonardo also continues to expand the number of early careers opportunities across its UK sites, driven in large part by the company’s core position in the GCAP project. Leonardo will hire an additional 300 apprentices, industrial placements and graduate scheme starters in 2023, bringing the total number of young people on early careers schemes to 900.

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