A programme that has already nurtured the bright ideas of 200 regional businesses is to be extended by the North East Business and Innovation Centre (BIC).
Since its launch in 2011, the Innovation Programme has provided advice and funding worth more than £1,400,000 to help companies become more innovative and competitive – creating 128 jobs in the process.
The programme was due to end in September 2021 but is to be extended until June 2023 after a successful funding bid by the BIC for £407,895 from the European Regional Development Fund.
The money will mean the BIC can support an extra 50 businesses in the region to exploit new opportunities or adapt to meet new challenges in a post-pandemic world.
BIC’s Innovation Manager Gillian Middleton said: “The timing of the extension is perfect because it means ideas that have been developed by the region’s businesses during the pandemic can be supported and accelerated.
“The crisis has stimulated a wave of innovation from businesses who are adapting to survive or considering emerging trends and exploring new opportunities. The Innovation Programme is perfectly placed to help them to take these ideas forward by creating products, processes or services that are either new to them or new to the market.
“The programme has been incredibly popular over the past ten years and has allowed us to work with a wide range of businesses from all sectors. Together we’ve created everything from hand cream for healthcare workers to seabed analysing software and we can’t wait to see what projects come next.
“We’re especially keen to reach established companies where innovation can create a step change in their business but we’re always open to startups who are beginning their journey and are brimming with energy and creativity.”
The Innovation Programme is open to investment-ready businesses of all sectors and stages of growth throughout the North East. It provides a team of experts to structure an innovation project, provide guidance and advice, links to industry experts and suppliers, and up to 40 percent funding for projects worth between £5,000 and £40,000.