Businesses throughout Newcastle, Northumberland and North Tyneside can apply for critical new funding to help them grow, and protect or create new jobs through innovation.
Contributing 50 per cent of eligible business spend towards Innovation Projects totalling between £10,000 and £20,000 (excluding VAT), the Innovation Recovery Grant has been launched by the North of Tyne Combined Authority (NTCA) with the aim of helping businesses after the toughest 18 months of trading in living memory.
The new grant programme can help businesses adopt innovative practices, or bring innovative products or services to the market, and it’s open to a wide range of industry sectors, big or small, in the region. Grants of between £5,000 and £10,000 are available.
The project is being delivered on behalf of the NTCA by experienced grant fund managers, NBSL and innovation and business support experts, Innovation SuperNetwork.
Simon Green, chair of Innovation SuperNetwork, says innovation comes in many forms, from a firm wanting to change its manufacturing process, to an artist wanting to reach new markets or a company developing cutting edge technology. “These are all very different, but all are important and needed,” said Simon.
While the fund is open to most sectors, they particularly want to hear from rural businesses throughout Northumberland. Those working in the energy, healthcare, manufacturing, digital or social innovation sectors are encouraged to apply.
The grant is open to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and the team are keen to see more applications from medium-sized businesses (50+ employees), John King from the grant fund manager, NBSL, added: “Demand for the North of Tyne Innovation Recovery Grant has been very high and we’ve been very impressed with the quality and range of applications. We’ve already been able to support businesses who are bringing new products and services to the market, as well as providing grants to help adopt digital solutions along with equipment purchases that have helped either improve production efficiencies or operational effectiveness. But we know there are many more businesses out there who are doing things differently, and we want to help them succeed!”
John continued: “With only five months left of this offer we’re keen to receive more applications from North of Tyne businesses who have new-to-company or new-to-market innovation plans. We’re fortunate that this funding programme is able to take a broad view of what is classed as an innovation project and would encourage anyone who wishes to explore the potential eligibility of a project prior to making an application to get in touch for a chat.”
One of the key eligibility criteria is that the innovation is a new one - it needs to be something the business has never done before.
And as the pandemic forced many businesses to completely change the way they delivered their services, adapting to survive, many owners will have considered new ideas, or taken time out during lockdown to work on an idea and be ready to take it to the next stage.
Simon Green added: “Innovation is about doing something different that has an impact – that could be a commercial impact, a social impact or an environmental impact. The difference between invention and innovation is doing something with it and making a difference to the world.
“For instance, we’re already helping Alnwick-based Drone AG take existing drone technology and apply it to the farming sector to monitor and manage crops and reduce waste.”
It’s hoped the grant will also stimulate a green, sustainable recovery which will not only protect jobs and boost the local economy but help implement new ideas that will contribute to the net zero agenda.
Councillor Carl Johnson, Cabinet Member for Investment and Resources at North of Tyne Combined Authority, said: “Delivered through our Recovery Innovation Fund, the North of Tyne Innovation Recovery Grant is a critical piece of funding for businesses which have weathered the last 18 months with resilience but are now looking to future sustainability. We know many businesses across the North of Tyne area have adapted in response to Covid safety measures, and this has opened the door for them to incorporate more innovative and productive ways of working, which could ultimately lead to growth.
“It is by enabling such innovation to take place that we hope the grants will stimulate economic growth across the area. The programme is just one part of a wider package of support available to businesses in Northumberland, North Tyneside and Newcastle alongside our Green New Deal and Good Work Pledge, which will lead to the creation of quality new sustainable and green jobs.”
What do I do next?
If you are considering bringing in new equipment or processes you can apply for grant funding today to help you with up to 50 per cent of the costs. You may not have considered the next stage in your business plan as innovation, but the fund managers want to help you and your business succeed.
For more information and to apply for the North of Tyne Innovation Recovery Grant visit: https://ntca-innovationrecoverygrant.co.uk/