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By Stephen Hall, Office Senior Partner, Deloitte North East

Deloitte is supporting Team Tyne Innovation’s participation in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, a 3,000 mile race known as the world’s toughest row. I’d like to tell you why Deloitte got involved and how you can help.

The North East has a rich heritage in innovation. There are many examples of great innovators from our region, including George Stephenson, William Armstrong, Joseph Swan and Charles Parsons.

To that distinguished list we need to add Harry Clasper. Harry’s work in the mid-1800s led to the design of the modern day Olympic rowing boats that are still in use today.

Harry’s exploits as a competitive rower saw him compete on the Tyne in front of crowds of more than 100,000 people. Harry became a professional rower and, alongside his brothers, won the champion fours in London, beating the Thames crews and becoming world champions.

He was also a boat builder, and as a rowing innovator he introduced the modern racing shell with outboard rigger, as well as spoon-shaped blades.

Harry would have appreciated the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge – the ultimate for any competitive rower. It tests an individual’s physical and mental strengths to the limit.

It takes a certain kind of person to keep going when faced with blisters, salt rash, sharks and sleep deprivation. That is probably why more people have been into space, or climbed Everest, than have successfully crossed the Atlantic Ocean in a rowing boat.

By taking part in the Challenge, Team Tyne Innovation is seeking to demonstrate that the tradition of innovation in the North East is alive and kicking.

Setting off in December from La Gomera in the Canary Islands, the team of four amateur rowers, led by former Reece Group CEO Phil Kite, will work in pairs (two on, two off) to row across the Atlantic for 3,000 miles, ending in Antigua in the Caribbean.

Why did we want to be involved?

In taking on this extraordinary yet somewhat daunting challenge, the team want to highlight North East innovation. That is why they are looking for pioneering products and services from local businesses, colleges and universities that will improve the speed of the boat, enhance crew performance, offer greater protection from the elements, generate energy for subsystems and improve communication.

When I was approached by Team Tyne Innovation to lend Deloitte’s support, it wasn’t just the idea of crossing the Atlantic and raising money for three fantastic local charities that sparked my interest. It was the team’s desire to demonstrate that the North East remains a hotbed for innovation.

Innovation is a pivotal lever in today’s global environment, and it is a top priority for Deloitte. In order to transform the way we serve clients, develop our people and lead our industry, we are investing more time, resources, and money than ever before.

I’m delighted Deloitte is there to support Team Tyne Innovation in this small way. And what a great time to do it, with the Great Exhibition of the North taking place over the summer.

Three great local charities – Daft as a Brush, The Stroke Association and St Oswald’s Hospice – will benefit from Team Tyne Innovation’s involvement in the Challenge, so that’s a fantastic reason for other businesses to show their support.

And the team are still on the lookout for more products, from grab lines and navigation lights to safety clothing and satellite phones, which will enable the crew to complete the crossing in the fastest possible time.

Can you help?

Find out more about Team Tyne Innovation, the Challenge and how to get involved.


Stephen Hall


Stephen Hall

Stephen Hall is the senior partner in our Newcastle office. He has worked for the firm for over 25 years where he has advised many public and private sector organisations on all aspects of direct tax. Stephen also heads up the Private Client Practice for Yorkshire and the North East. From Durham, Stephen joined the firm from university and has always worked in the North East. Stephen was named Tax Adviser of the Year in the North East Accountancy Awards in 2009 and 2014.


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