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Getting Building Fund support for new ‘green’ multi-storey car park on NewcastleGateshead Quays

A new multi-storey car park being built on the NewcastleGateshead Quays site in Gateshead is likely to be the most carbon-neutral car park in the region.

The 10-storey, 1,000 space car park – which is supported by funding from government’s Getting Building Fund – will have charging points for up to 50 electric cars but will be built with the infrastructure already in place to allow an additional 250 EV charging points to be retrofitted as demand increases.

Virtually all of the building’s energy needs will come from renewable sources generated within a stone’s throw of the site, with some electricity generated by the building itself using a series of photo-voltaic cells installed on the roof.

Additional electricity will be supplied by the nearby Council-owned District Energy Centre, which will shortly begin receiving power from a planned 2 mW solar farm to be built on land adjacent to the car park.

Andrew Moffat CBE, Chair of the Investment Board at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “The North East is committed to creating a greener economy, and supporting businesses in all sectors to drive forward decarbonisation.

“The new multi-storey car park on NewcastleGateshead Quays is just one of the clean energy projects we’re supporting through the Getting Building Fund and Local Growth Fund. The region’s ongoing investment in green, sustainable energy has helped position the North East as one of the leading destinations in the world for advancements in areas like offshore wind and electrification.

“The UK government has set a target to reach net zero by 2050, and our region is ready to play a significant role in reaching that milestone.”

In addition to the multi-storey car park at NewcastleGateshead Quays, the North East LEP has also invested £600k from the Local Growth Fund to identify and create seven new electric vehicle charging points across the LEP area – including one in Gateshead. The investment reflects the need to roll out EV infrastructure across the North East, build back greener from the coronavirus pandemic, and support government’s green industrial revolution.

The NewcastleGateshead Quays car park will be linked directly to the A184 Felling bypass via a new road running through Baltic Quarter. The plans include a new Green Blue corridor, containing landscaped walking and cycling routes, and the provision of habitats that encourage biodiversity.

Wilmott Dixon has been awarded the contract to build the ‘green’ car park as part of the £260m arena-led regeneration scheme.

NewcastleGateshead Quays was awarded £7m from government’s Getting Building Fund to support the creation of the new events destination and link road.

Andrew continued: “The Getting Building Fund was created to provide investment to shovel-ready infrastructure projects across the country that will help boost regional economic growth, fuel local recovery and create jobs.

“NewcastleGateshead Quays is a hugely significant project not just for Gateshead, but the North East LEP region as a whole. The regeneration scheme is expected to create around 2,000 new jobs in the North East and provide a £60m annual boost to our local economy.”

The North East LEP area was awarded £47m through the Getting Building Fund, with the North East Local Enterprise Partnership increasing the fund to £55m by releasing an additional £8m from the North East Investment Fund.

The projects put forward for the North East LEP area are expected to create more than 4,000 construction and permanent jobs; unlock more than 19,000 sqm of commercial space; assist more than 3,000 learners; improve or construct 4.2km of roads, cycle lanes and walkways; and further strengthen the North East’s green energy sector.

The government’s £900m Getting Building Fund was announced in August 2020 as part of its package of support to kick-start the economy, create jobs and help areas facing the biggest economic challenges as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

For more information about the Getting Building Fund, visit www.gov.uk.

For more information about the North East LEP, visit www.northeastlep.co.uk.

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How the Local Growth Fund helped North East businesses diversify during the coronavirus pandemic

In March 2020, as the coronavirus pandemic escalated in the UK, there soon became an immediate and urgent need for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

To help meet demand, government encouraged companies up and down the country to pivot their businesses to manufacture and supply PPE.

To support businesses in the North East LEP region to join the national COVID-19 effort and produce Personal Protective Equipment, the North East LEP increased its budget from the Local Growth Fund to £1.9m to support the Supply Chain North East programme, which assists businesses to diversify their offering, expand their customer base and unlock untapped opportunities in new markets.

Businesses could apply for a capital grant to pivot their business and begin the manufacture and supply of PPE. In total, 32 businesses in the North East LEP area received funding.

They include County Durham-based IT company, Carbon8 Ltd. Following a significant reduction in sales as supply chains across the world were impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, the company decided to pivot its business completely to produce medical grade face masks. In May 2020 John Murphy, Director of Carbon8 Ltd, contacted Supply Chain North East to discuss what support was available to develop a new business model to incorporate the production of face masks.

Working with testing agencies as well as Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), Carbon8 Ltd secured the required certification and accreditation and is now producing face masks to EN14683 IIR standards.

John Murphy, Director of Carbon8 Ltd, said: “I would definitely recommend Supply Chain North East to other businesses. The team were so helpful with the project and had excellent understanding of what I was trying to accomplish, and I really appreciated the suggestions that were given in relation to the business. At a very uncertain time, we were given other options to our business and now that we are in production, we are looking forward to increasing our production permanently with the help received.”

Another County Durham-based business, Newton Press, used LGF capital funding from Supply Chain North East to diversify its business to produce PPE screen guards for local businesses, the NHS and care homes.

The family-run publishing and printing business saw a sudden loss in demand for its products and services and chose to diversify in response to the coronavirus pandemic. After speaking to Supply Chain North East, Newton Press was able to access the funds to upgrade and recalibrate its equipment to produce a range of screen guards that met the individual needs and preferences of businesses. Its existing print facilities meant the company was able to offer clients the ability to brand screen guards with logos or instructions.

Stuart Howarth, Director of Newton Press, said: “We are very grateful to Supply Chain North East for the support to upgrade our equipment. It has played a major part in recovering sales and moving forward.”

Rocket Medical, an award-winning designer and manufacturer of single use medical devices based in Washington, Sunderland, was awarded LGF capital grant funding through Supply Chain North East to acquire and install new machinery to improve the speed, quality, accuracy of its production. The company produces a number of devices that are essential for the NHS’s COVID-19 response, resulting in a huge rise in demand.

Alan Hewett, Supply Chain North East Business Advisor at RTC North, said: “It was fantastic to be able to support Rocket Medical in this crucial time and assist their acquirement of additional equipment to automate a process and alleviate a ‘bottle neck’, which has helped the business to meet the demand posed by the COVID-19 situation in support of the healthcare sector.”

Andrew Moffat CBE, Chair of the Innovation Board at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic there was a huge amount of uncertainty, and businesses across our region were preparing for the worst. Many saw an immediate negative impact as supply chains were disrupted globally.

“The decision to invest further in Supply Chain North East and assist businesses to diversify their offering was in direct response to this. The Local Growth Fund supports the delivery of the North East Strategic Economic Plan, which aims to grow a more productive, inclusive and sustainable North East economy and create 100,000 more and better jobs for the region. By helping businesses pivot to manufacture and supply PPE we were able to protect, and in some cases, create new jobs.

“The investment from the Local Growth Fund has supported 32 businesses to continue trading and, importantly, create a new revenue stream that is contributing to the North East’s economic recovery.”

The Local Growth Fund has invested more than £270m in major capital projects across all seven North East LEP local authority areas since 2015. Projects include the International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP) in Sunderland and South Tyneside, The Biosphere life sciences building on Newcastle Helix, the South Shields bus and Metro Transport Interchange in South Tyneside, and The Sill: National Landscape Discovery Centre in Northumberland National Park.

The Local Growth Fund supports the delivery of the North East Strategic Economic Plan, which aims to grow a more productive, inclusive and sustainable North East economy and create 100,000 more and better jobs for the region.

All £270.1m from the Local Growth Fund has now been allocated in the North East LEP region, with all in-progress projects due to reach completion by 2024.

Projects supported through the Local Growth Fund help drive innovation, improve support for businesses, support economic inclusion, and either help develop skills infrastructure or enhance strategic transport sites and public transport infrastructure.

To find out more about the Local Growth Fund, visit https://www.northeastlep.co.uk/funding.

To find out more about Supply Chain North East, visit www.supplychainnortheast.co.uk.

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In conversation with Andrew Moffat CBE, Chair of the North East LEP’s Investment Board, about the LEP’s annual review and the role investment has played in supporting the region’s economic recovery from COVID-19

In a period of uncertainty, it’s easy to get sidetracked. But over the last couple of years, the North East LEP has been able to maintain its longer-term strategic plan, while providing businesses and organisations with the support they need to keep moving.

In August 2020, the Government announced a fund investing £1.3bn into homes, infrastructure and jobs.

The Getting Building Fund looked to deliver up to 45,000 homes, create 85,000 jobs and boost skills and infrastructure nationwide. The North East LEP received £47m from government, which it topped up with a further £8m.

Over the next eight months, it moved quickly to arrange investment into 16 projects, which are anticipated to be well on the way to completion by spring 2022. These include the NUCASTLE facility for accessible learning and recreation, and the new South Tyneside Council Glassworks office development.

The North East LEP has a track record of supporting the right schemes in a timely manner. Andrew Moffat CBE chair of its Investment Board says that “when the government allocates funds to us – we spend them, in the time they require, and spend them effectively. They have confidence that we’ll deliver, and therefore next time, they might give us more.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve looked at where the gaps are in government funding, and tried to help. This includes a supply chain initiative for PPE, and an Innovation Challenge supporting businesses who are solving COVID-related problems. We also launched a crowdfunder scheme, which invested £471,000 into local small and micro businesses with the help of our generous community whose contributions we matched.

“As businesses bounce back, we’ll be looking to give them the support they need. We’ve called on government to back our ambitious £2.8bn Recovery and Renewal Deal, helping us build a greener, more innovative and resilient economy. We’re also providing direct support to businesses, through our investment programmes, and our Growth Hub support.

“COVID-19 has required us to collaborate and listen more than ever. We’ve acted quickly and decisively, and I’m really proud of the work our whole team has done. But we’re still carrying on with the work we’ve been doing for nearly a decade. We’re still committed to our Strategic Economic Plan, which aims to create 100,000 more and better jobs for the region.

“So far, the LEP has secured over a billion pounds in funding which in turn has secured more than another £1.6 billion of private sector investment in the region. We’re continuing to build on our strengths in Advanced Manufacturing, Energy, Health and Life Sciences and Digital. Our Local Growth Fund has distributed £270m over six years to strategic capital projects, while our Enterprise Zone funding has invested £65m, with a further £100m forecast by 2025.

“We’re also always looking at what’s happening globally, identifying which and how sectors are growing and evolving. Because, when opportunities arise, we want to support the region in harnessing them. We seek to make the necessary investments to ensure we’re prepared, whether that’s getting a brownfield site ready for development, or working with an investor or company to seize market opportunities.

“There are many examples where this strategy is already bearing fruit. The International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP) is a great example. The NewcastleGateshead Quays project is nearly off the blocks, and we’re working closely to support the redevelopment at Port of Blyth – as well as assisting other ports and operators in the region.

“We’re not alone. We’re working with many partners from all over the region to make the right choices to help the North East economy grow and thrive. Together, we have gained a fantastic reputation that includes a track record of delivery, whilst at the same time our strategic approach has allowed us to be on the front foot, and always ready for the next opportunity to gain access to government funding and help deliver real economic benefit to the region.”

Andrew Moffat CBE is the Chair of the North East LEP’s Investment Board.

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NewcastleGateshead Quays regeneration scheme awarded £7m from government’s Getting Building Fund

NewcastleGateshead Quays – the landmark arena-led regeneration scheme on the banks of the NewcastleGateshead quayside – has been awarded £7m from government’s Getting Building Fund to support the creation of the new events destination and a new link road connecting Baltic Quarter with the A184 and Felling Bypass.

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP) manages the Getting Building Fund in the North East LEP area, which comprises Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside and Sunderland. The North East LEP Investment Board approved Gateshead Council’s funding application in December 2020.

Andrew Moffat CBE, Chair of the Investment Board at the North East LEP, said: “The Getting Building Fund was created to provide investment to shovel-ready infrastructure projects across the country that will help boost regional economic growth, fuel local recovery and create jobs.

“NewcastleGateshead Quays is a hugely significant project not just for Gateshead, but the North East LEP region as a whole. The £290m regeneration scheme is expected to create around 2,000 new jobs in the North East and provide a £60m annual boost to our local economy.”

£5m from the Getting Building Fund has been awarded towards the creation of a new North South link road in Baltic Quarter. The new road will connect Gateshead Quays with the A184 and Quarryfield Road, leading to the Felling Bypass and across to the Freight Depot strategic housing site. The plans also include a new Green Blue corridor, containing new landscaped walking and cycling routes, and the provision of habitats that encourage biodiversity.

A further £2m has been awarded towards critical infrastructure works around the construction of the new arena, exhibition and conference centre, hotels, multi-storey car park, and public spaces.

The planned Arena and Conference and Exhibition Centre project has previously been awarded £5m through the Local Growth Fund in 2017.

Cllr Martin Gannon, Leader, Gateshead Council said: “A lot of time, hard work and commitment has been put into producing a plan for the growth and prosperity of Gateshead and the region. These funds will be vital in achieving our ambitions for the wider Quays project and borough as a whole. We are aiming to future proof Gateshead and improve connectivity and infrastructure. This investment will go some way to realising those plans and help attract leisure and business visitors to the North East.”

The North East LEP region was awarded £47m through the Getting Building Fund with the North East Local Enterprise Partnership increasing the fund to £55m by releasing an additional £8m from the North East Investment Fund.

The 17 projects put forward for the North East LEP area are expected to create more than 4,000 construction and permanent jobs; unlock more than 19,000 sqm of commercial space; assist more than 3,000 learners; improve or construct 4.2km of roads, cycle lanes and walkways; and further strengthen the North East’s green energy sector.

The government’s £900m Getting Building Fund was announced in August 2020 as part of its package of support to kick-start the economy, create jobs and help areas facing the biggest economic challenges as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

For more information about the Getting Building Fund, visit www.gov.uk.

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Investment in sites unlocks up to 4,000 new jobs in the North East

Across the North East, work is underway to transform land into top quality locations for businesses and bring more skilled jobs to the region. Ben McLaughlin, Programme Manager at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), explains how.

Since 2013, more than 1,600 jobs have been created in the North East, and it’s estimated that 2,400 more will be added over the next two years, thanks to investment by the North East LEP and partners in the region’s network of Enterprise Zone sites.

Over £166 million is expected to be invested by the North East LEP in these high quality development sites by 2025, in order to support the creation of more and better jobs in key sectors for the North East, including the automotive industry, offshore and subsea, and the energy sector.

Enterprise Zones are previously under-utilised sites which are made ready for businesses by investing in key infrastructure such as road links, utilities and digital connectivity – getting them investment-ready so to speak. They’re situated in some of the most desirable locations in our region, with excellent access to transport links, quayside locations, and proximity to ready-made supply chains which mean that investors can hit the ground running.

Here in the North East, we have more than 300 hectares of land that’s earmarked as Enterprise Zones and since 2013, we’ve seen these sites take shape, and businesses start to reap the benefits of moving into first-class office spaces and manufacturing sites.

The locations of our Enterprise Zones are also closely aligned to some of the areas of strategic importance which are named in the North East Strategic Economic Plan, including the advanced manufacturing and energy sectors.

In Sunderland for example, the International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP) is located north of the Nissan manufacturing plant, and provides a world-class, shovel-ready site for advanced manufacturing businesses. Follingsby Park North in Gateshead and Jade Business Park in Durham have also recently become home to manufacturing companies.

Around the banks of the River Tyne, the Neptune Energy Park in Newcastle has attracted a group of businesses operating in the subsea and offshore sectors, and the Holborn 2 in the Port of Tyne will soon be home to operations and maintenance activities for the Dogger Bank offshore development. Similarly, around the Blyth Estuary, Enterprise Zone sites at the Port of Blyth Bates Terminal and at Northumberland Energy Park will provide ideal space for emerging opportunities in the offshore and subsea sectors.

The Enterprise Zones have also supported high quality office developments close to Newcastle Airport, in the centre of Blyth and at the Centre for Innovation (CFI) building on the former Swan Hunters site in North Tyneside. There are further plans for more office space to be created on sites such as Holborn in South Tyneside.

Not only will jobs be created as businesses move into the new Enterprise Zones sites, but hundreds of people have already been employed in the construction industry, putting in the required buildings and infrastructure, readying the sites for their new tenants.

These sites are playing a critical role in supporting the North East’s economic growth, and they’re also bringing back to life former industrial areas, like power stations and shipyards; making them ready for today’s businesses and tomorrow’s innovators.

Find out more about the North East’s Enterprise Zones here.

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£3 million funding awarded to Northumberland robotics test site

Funding has been awarded to support the creation of a new test site for emerging robotics technology in Northumberland, which is set to be the first centre of its type in the UK.

The Robotics and Autonomous Systems (RAS) Test Site, which is being developed by the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult in Blyth, has been awarded £3 million from the government’s Getting Building Fund, which is managed in the region by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

Gillian Hall, Chair of the North East LEP Innovation Board, said: “This new test site will put the North East at the centre of robotics innovation for the offshore industry, helping to develop new technologies which have the potential to be used worldwide.

“The Getting Building Fund is there to create new jobs and help the economy recover from the impact of the pandemic, and this project will brings jobs and investment to the region, helping to build a stronger, more sustainable North East.”

Matthew Hadden, Deputy Head of Delivery at ORE Catapult, said: “As the offshore renewable sector continues to grow, some of the largest costs are carrying out inspections, maintenance and installation activities offshore. It’s expensive and potentially dangerous.

“There’s a role for robotics to play in improving these processes and a real drive within the industry to adopt this new technology over the next five to 10 years – our aim is to support and accelerate innovation in robotics here in the North East, and see it in action in UK waters.”

The RAS Test Site will accelerate the demonstration, testing and evaluation of new technologies and will also provide links with ORE Catapult’s team of experts in research, innovation and operational maintenance.

The centre will be equipped with both onshore and offshore demonstration facilities, helping SMEs, universities and other developers of new technologies to develop new products and bring them to market.

“We have an incredibly strong offshore and subsea energy sector in the North East, particularly in oil and gas, and the RAS Test Site will play a big role in our ability to support the transition to renewables. This funding from the Getting Building Fund is vital in bringing forward new technologies developed in the North East,” added Matthew.

The North East LEP region was awarded £47m through the Getting Building Fund with the North East Local Enterprise Partnership increasing the fund to £55m by releasing an additional £8m from the North East Investment Fund.

The 17 projects put forward for the North East LEP area are expected to create more than 4,000 construction and permanent jobs; unlock more than 19,000 sqm of commercial space; assist more than 3,000 learners; improve or construct 4.2km of roads, cycle lanes and walkways; and further strengthen the North East’s green energy sector.

The government’s £900m Getting Building Fund was announced in August 2020 to provide investment in shovel-ready infrastructure projects across the country.

For more information about the Getting Building Fund, visit www.gov.uk.

Image: BladeBUG is one such repair and maintenance robot making leaps in offshore robotics capabilities. Image courtesy of BladeBUG.

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South Tyneside Council awarded £3m from government to support The Glassworks office development

South Tyneside Council has been awarded £3m from government’s Getting Building Fund to support the creation of a proposed state of the art, glass-fronted riverside office building in the town.

The Glassworks – subject to planning permission – will be built on former brownfield land in the Harton Quay area of South Shields and provide 50,000 sq ft of Grade A office accommodation. It will aim to be one of the first near-net carbon zero office buildings in the North East.

The Getting Building Fund – managed in the region by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership – is part of government’s package of financial support to kick-start the economy, create jobs and help areas facing the biggest economic challenges as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Helen Golightly, Chief Executive of the North East LEP, said: “The Glassworks will be an important new development by South Tyneside Council and an excellent example of the type of project the region needs to help support our recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. Despite the increase in people working from home because of COVID-19, there is still demand for quality and affordable office accommodation in the region.

“The scheme will build on recent North East LEP investments in the town, including the new South Shields Transport Interchange and Nexus Learning Centre.

“The Getting Building Fund is designed to get major infrastructure projects moving quickly, so we can start to see our economy and employment rates return to pre-COVID levels.”

Spread over five storeys, The Glassworks will form part of the new living, working and cultural quarter in Harton Quay, and link to South Shields’ town centre.

Cllr Tracey Dixon, Leader of South Tyneside Council, said: “We’re delighted to have secured this funding through the Government’s Getting Building Fund.

“We hope that The Glassworks will start the transformation of a vacant site into a bustling quarter, attracting new businesses to the town and helping to generate jobs for local people.

“It would be another milestone in our ambitions for South Shields and complement the considerable investment that has already gone into this area.”

The North East LEP region was awarded £47m through the Getting Building Fund with the North East Local Enterprise Partnership increasing the fund to £55m by releasing an additional £8m from the North East Investment Fund.

The 18 projects put forward for the North East LEP area are expected to create more than 4,000 construction and permanent jobs; unlock more than 19,000 sqm of commercial space; assist more than 3,000 learners; improve or construct 4.2km of roads, cycle lanes and walkways; and further strengthen the North East’s green energy sector.

The government’s £900m Getting Building Fund was announced in August 2020 to provide investment in shovel-ready infrastructure projects across the country.

For more information about the Getting Building Fund, visit www.gov.uk.

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Universities support North East’s economic recovery: START UP at Newcastle University

Universities have a vital role to play in helping the North East economy recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

The work being delivered by North East universities is supporting new and existing businesses to innovate and grow, and shaping and supporting a more sustainable and inclusive economy.

Durham University, Newcastle University, Northumbria University, University of Sunderland and Teesside University are all members of the North East COVID-19 Economic Response Group, which was established by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic to provide business resilience and ensure a collective response to the economic impact of COVID-19 on the North East economy.

Below is a case study about Newcastle University’s START UP offer, with a focus on the impact student and graduate businesses it supports are having within the region, and how they are responding to the COVID-19 crisis.

Newcastle University is ranked Top 5 in the UK for graduate entrepreneurship based on start-up turnover and investment raised. Based on average investment per start-up, the University is ranked Top 10 in the UK for scalable graduate start-ups and has generated the most investable graduate start-ups in the North East.

START UP is an equity-free support system for Newcastle University students and graduates up to three years and includes START UP Founderships, a pre-accelerator programme to ready the individual and their businesses for market entry, investment and success.

There are currently 203 START UP-supported businesses trading with a combined annual turnover of close to £60 million. Between them, they’ve raised over £19 million in external investment, won national and global awards and created 695 full-time equivalent jobs.

*All rankings and statistics from HE-BCI Survey 2018-19.

Over 70% of these businesses have remained in the North East, many of which recruit within the region, such as One Utility Bill, Nebula Labs and My Healthcare Recruit. Many the businesses are securing impressive investment figures.

In September 2020, Equiwatt raised over £300,000 to roll-out its innovative, energy-efficient app and create four new jobs in Newcastle. A month prior, Tea Ventures Ltd (NovelTea) welcomed 1,000 investors onboard as part of a crowdfund campaign that raised £577,000 to advance its plans to break into the US market, and in December, gained a further £1.4M investment for expansion and job creation.

Many of the START UP founders are persevering or finding ways to pivot despite challenges posed by the COVID-19 crisis. Some have received grant support through Newcastle University’s partnership with Santander Universities UK to help them survive and thrive in 2020, and others are applying to a newly launched fund of £40,000.

“Last year with Santander Universities, we launched a Covid-19 Fund to help our START UP community adapt in response to the global crisis, supporting some businesses to scale in order to meet new demand. This new Fund is about stimulating and supporting the next wave of entrepreneurs and changemakers who will have a critical role to play in our economic and social recovery” said Claire Adamson, START UP Manager, Newcastle University. “It is also about making visible and celebrating the individuals joining the growing community of Newcastle University students and graduates who have created their own graduate jobs as well as employment opportunities for others”, she added.

Santander Universities has been in partnership with Newcastle University since 2009 and has provided close to £1.7M to the University, with £189k appointed to enterprise activities.

Matt Hutnell, Director, Santander Universities, says: “Santander is committed to supporting higher education as well as local communities across the UK. We’re proud of our partnership with Newcastle University and we’re delighted to support their new Start Up Fund which will enable many more budding entrepreneurs to thrive, particularly during this challenging time.”

To find out more about START UP, visit www.ncl.ac.uk.

Click here to read more about how universities in the region are playing a central role in supporting the region to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

Click here to read more about the North East COVID-19 Economic Response Group.

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More than £1.2 million awarded to North East voluntary, community and social enterprise projects

More than £1.2 million has been awarded to voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations in the North East to fund projects that support young people in the region and that contribute to a green economic recovery.

The funding has been awarded by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), from its Local Growth Fund VCSE Capital Grant programme, which aims to help communities across the North East recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Projects awarded funding range from the regeneration of a community garden in Meadow Well, North Tyneside; the creation of a ‘social kitchen’ in Hendon, Sunderland; and the development of a new learning facility and 20 hectares of improved green space for public use in Newcastle.

Helen Golightly, Chief Executive of the North East LEP, said: “The VCSE sector does vital work, not only in supporting communities but it also makes a valuable contribution to creating a stronger, greener economy.

“We recognise the central role that voluntary, community and social enterprise-led projects have to play as we work together as a region to build a stronger post-pandemic North East, and this new funding will help to bring forward projects that will benefit communities across our region.”

One of the organisations to receive support is Meadow Well Connected, which will receive £54,612 towards the regeneration of a community garden which will act as a hub for the local community, with opportunities for young people to undertake training in landscaping, biodiversity and horticulture.

Mandi Cresswell, Chief Officer of Meadow Well Connected, said: “The North East LEP funding will give a massive boost to our regeneration plans for our five-acre community garden and enable us to support local young people to gain skills and experience of working outside. It will create more biodiversity locally and create shared spaces for local people to enjoy.

“Our outdoor spaces have proved vital during the COVID-19 restrictions, providing opportunities to meet safely and connect with nature. We can’t wait to start this transformative work which will make a real difference to people of all ages.”

In Sunderland, Back on the Map – a charity which works to improve quality of life for residents of Hendon – has been granted £100,472 to turn an empty shop into a community café and training space which will work to counter food poverty as well as offering training placements for young people with learning disabilities.

Julie Gray, Chair of Back on the Map, said: “We are delighted to receive this award from the North East Local Enterprise Partnership. The funds will enable us to develop a sustainable local enterprise which will provide training and employment opportunities as well as improving local retail premises and simulating the local economy in an economically deprived area.”

The Natural History Society of Northumbria, based in Newcastle, has also been awarded funding, receiving £91,500 towards its Gosforth Environmental Field Station. The project will provide a learning space for schools, colleges and universities, plus 20 hectares of woodland for public use, and builds on the existing Gosforth Nature Reserve which has been managed by volunteers since 1929.

Clare Freeman, Director, Natural History Society of Northumbria, said: “Young people will be delighted with opportunities to experience nature and develop new skills at Gosforth Nature Reserve. Skilled, enthusiastic volunteers are really excited to develop our education programme to offer a much wider range of activities, proactively inviting new community groups to experience this regional natural gem. We would love to hear from community groups, school groups, colleges and universities who may like to visit the new field station and nature reserve.”

In Gateshead, Chopwell Regeneration CIO have been awarded a grant of £100,000 to convert a former bank into an enterprise and welfare centre in the heart of Chopwell in rural west Gateshead. The centre will include a food bank, community cafe, employability skills training, and space and support for small businesses.

Jodie Barwick-Bell, Chair of Chopwell Regeneration CIO, said: “We are over the moon to receive this grant which will enable us to provide vital services from this autumn. The impact of COVID on our already deprived community is severe and the need is significant. As a result of the grant we will now be able to provide much-needed support to our community, including in particular education and training opportunities. Thank you so much to the North East LEP.”

Dean Titterton, Chief Executive Officer of YMCA North Tyneside, which was awarded funding for a youth skills academy, said: “YMCA North Tyneside are delighted to be awarded this grant from the North East LEP for work that will prove to be invaluable to young people and the community that we serve. As a thriving local charity that looks to create healthy, happy and connected communities we know that the money granted will enable us to equip individuals with the appropriate training, skills, advice and guidance for now and the future.”

A further 9 organisations also received funding to support a range of VCSE projects across the region.

Helen Golightly, Chief Executive of the North East LEP added: “All the projects which have been brought forward for funding have real potential to contribute towards a greener, better future for the North East and to engage young people with opportunities to develop their environmental awareness and skills.

“The past year has hit our region hard but I’m confident that we can collaborate and move towards recovery together, and local projects like this can play a central role.”

(Image: Madow Well Connected).