WHEN Theresa May brought her cabinet to Gateshead last month, we expressed a hope that the visit was not simply a box-ticking exercise.

Therefore, we welcome today’s details of a £180m investment into North-East innovation, with Chancellor Philip Hammond pledging to support the ‘technologies of tomorrow’.

The Centre for Process Innovation, based in Redcar, will receive £107m as part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy, with Mr Hammond keen to fund work in ‘high-tech labs, cutting-edge factories and advanced training centres’.

The money alone is welcome. Too much investment into the British economy is focused on the South, particularly when it comes to spending on infrastructure, and anything that redresses that balance is to be applauded.

It is also good to see the Government prioritising investment into businesses and individuals working in the rapidly-developing sectors of research and new technology.

For too long, the North-East’s industrial sector has been focused on a small number of areas. It is crucial to widen the region’s industrial base, and concentrating on emerging technologies and world-leading research is a wise move.

However, a £180m spending pot is something of a drop in the ocean compared to what will be needed to help the North-East develop into a global force in such competitive industries. It is to be hoped this is merely the start of a sustained investment drive.