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In conversation with Katherine Forbes, Health and Life Science Programme Lead at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, about the new Health & Life Sciences Project Development Fund

Why are you introducing a Health and Life Sciences Project Development Fund?

The North East has a strong, unique and growing health and life sciences sector, which is why it’s recognised within the North East Strategic Economic Plan (SEP) as one of four areas of strategic importance in the region.

The growth and continued success of the sector will play a significant role in helping the region recover from the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic and help achieve the SEP’s aim of creating 100,000 more and better jobs.

To help deliver this ambition, the North East Local Enterprise Partnership has launched a new Health & Life Sciences Project Development Fund with £300,000 from the Local Growth Fund. The fund will provide upfront support – up to a maximum of £50,000 – to accelerate the specification and business case for projects that will be key to the future growth of the health and life sciences sector in the region.

We plan to develop a pipeline of collaborative and ambitious projects for the North East that will enable us to:

  • Secure future investment
  • Encourage more businesses to base themselves in the region
  • Grow and strengthen the health and life sciences ecosystem by developing and accelerating the innovation and commercialisation support activity for spin out / startup businesses
  • Expand pharmaceutical manufacturing.

What type of projects are you looking to support?

We’re looking for ambitious projects that will go on to create more and better jobs in the North East, lead innovation in the sector, and attract investment. The fund is an opportunity for organisations to collaborate and submit proposals to develop business plans, feasibility studies and reports for strategically significant projects that will prepare them to secure additional funding, and help us develop a strong pipeline of capital, revenue and infrastructure projects.

We know, for example, there is a significant opportunity for growth within pharmaceutical manufacturing. COVID-19 has reinforced our reliance on international supply chains for essential medicines. The re-shoring of pharmaceutical manufacture to build resilience in the supply base of essential drugs and medicines for the NHS – and the opportunity to innovate within the manufacturing process to build this capability and retain it here in the North East – would also develop significant supply chain and inward investment opportunities, helping to create jobs both within the health and life sciences sector and across wider supply chain and service sectors.

What opportunities exist for health and life sciences sector in our region?

The outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic has had a significant and detrimental impact on some industry sectors. The North East’s health and life sciences sector has not only responded quickly, but has made a significant contribution to supporting the response. The COVID-19 pandemic has also created further opportunities to grow the sector and drive the region’s economic recovery.

Here in the North East we have an unrivalled combination of academic expertise across our universities and a leading Academic Health Science Network, which is pivotal in delivering commercial ideas into the NHS.

We have exceptional NHS Trusts and NHS organisations that are not only providers of excellent health care, but leaders in the field of clinical research, evaluation and clinical trials.

Over the last few years there has been significant investment in state-of-the-art health and life sciences infrastructure and assets across the North East, including The Biosphere on Newcastle Helix and CPI’s National Formulation Centre and National Centre for Healthcare Photonics at NETPark in County Durham.

The combination of the business base; exceptional health, research and health innovation capabilities; and the partnership between the health system, science and business community, represents a significant opportunity to grow the health and life sciences sector in the region, improve services, and create jobs.

What are the aims of this fund?

It’s the North East LEP’s ambition to double the number of jobs and the number of businesses working in the North East’s health and life sciences sector by 2030. It’s really important for applicants to outline how their project will help us achieve this.

This Health & Life Sciences Project Development Fund will help create a pipeline of strategic projects that will bring investment to our region, grow the business base, and help deliver our aim of creating 100,000 more and better jobs for the North East.

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Supporting businesses to develop new energy solutions in the North East

Earlier this year, SMEs in the North East were invited to put forward solutions to global energy challenges, as part of the Energy Innovation Challenge. David Lynch, Energy Innovation Partnership Manager at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), gives an update on how the programme is now helping to make the most promising ideas a reality.

When we created the Energy Innovation Challenge, we wanted to give businesses in our region an opportunity to develop new products and services that could help to tackle some of the energy-related challenges the world is facing, and to support them to bring their ideas to market.

The theme of the first challenge was decentralised and decarbonised energy and we launched it back in March – just as the country went into lockdown.

We had to act quickly to move our planned event online, and we extended the deadline so that people had more time to put together their submissions. In spite of all the disruption brought by the pandemic, we’ve been really pleased with the response from businesses, and the extremely high level of entries into the challenge.

We’ve seen real innovation in the proposals that were put forward, which have spanned a range of different product types, including innovations in photovoltaic materials, water filtration devices, and energy generation and battery storage.

We’ve been able to provide all the SMEs that put forward proposals with support and advice to develop their ideas further. The proposals have all been assessed by a panel of energy specialists through the North East Energy Catalyst, and the most viable will now be taken forward for a grant application for £20k though the government’s Local Growth Fund with some going forward to pitch for £20k of investment from Northstar Ventures.

All the successful proposals are also receiving business advice through the North East Growth Hub, and have already taken part in workshops on topics including marketing, business models and IP.

And an added benefit has been that the cohort has been able to bounce ideas off each other and work together, with some now discussing possible partnership work in the future – it’s been incredibly useful for everyone to be able to uncover knowledge and grow their businesses together.

It’s been exciting to see the strength of innovation in the North East and to play a part in helping to push these businesses forward and helping to develop innovative new energy solutions in our region.

And this isn’t the end, as we’re about to launch the next part of the Energy Innovation Challenge, which will be all about digital and data-led solutions for energy. This will be an opportunity for digital and tech businesses in the North East LEP region to apply their knowledge to the energy sector and to potentially take steps towards launching a new product.

We have a wealth of expertise and ideas within the SME sector in the North East and this is a huge opportunity for people in our region to lead the way in tackling some global issues.

The next Energy Innovation Challenge will open on 31 July. To find out more, contact David Lynch on [email protected].

The North East Energy Catalyst is supported by ERDF and the Energy Innovation Challenge received grant funding from the government’s Local Growth Fund via the North East LEP.

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‘Plan for Jobs’ – response from the North East Local Enterprise Partnership

Speaking about today’s ‘Plan for Jobs’ announcement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Richard Baker, Head of Strategy and Policy for the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said:

“The Chancellor is right to be focusing on stimulus and recovery at this stage. This series of proposals will support the labour market and key sectors and provide much needed opportunities to transition towards a greener economy in the future.

“The steps taken to support the hardest hit sectors, especially hospitality and tourism, are particularly welcome, as is the Kickstart scheme, which will provide opportunities for young people to gain experience and build confidence and skills in the workplace, improving their chances of going on to find long-term sustainable work.

“We have set a three-stage plan for recovery and renewal for the North East and will be continuing to talk with Government about further investment for the region.”

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Crowdfund North East LEP: Flintlab

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership has partnered with Crowdfunder to make up to £5,000 in match funding available to help small businesses continue to trade through the coronavirus pandemic.

Crowdfund North East LEP allows small businesses employing no more than 10 full-time equivalent employees to secure match funding to boost their own crowdfunding efforts.

There are 45,800 eligible small businesses across the North East and many are in urgent need of financial support. The funds released by North East LEP will provide urgent relief for those businesses most in need who do not qualify for other government funding schemes. The match funding is being sourced from the North East Investment Fund and will total up to £1 million.

Below is a case study of Flintlab – coworking and office space in Gosforth, Newcastle – that has benefited from Crowdfund North East LEP.

To find out more about Crowdfund North East LEP, raise funds for your business, or donate to a small business in need, please click here.

Please introduce yourself, your company, and tell us why you fundraised through Crowdfunder.

Hello I’m Paul Alderson, founder of Flintlab. Flintlab opened in Gosforth 18 months ago to provide an affordable and flexible place to work. It soon became a hub of local, independent businesses and we even won an award.

When Coronavirus hit we had to close our doors. We’re now ready to re-open having made changes to the space already, including removing desks, adjusting layouts to enable social distancing, and installing sanitisation stations throughout the building.

But we need to go further to prepare for the future. The crowdfunded support will make it possible for us to create a more contactless entrance and exit, develop our desks into ‘pods’ to enable video meetings without disturbing co-workers, and improve our outdoor space for more year-round use.

How easy was it to set up your crowdfunding campaign and apply for the North East LEP’s match funding?

Setting up a crowdfunder can be done quickly but it’s worth investing some time. After all you’re asking for pledges from supporters who might not know you to ensure you can serve them in the future. We took time to ensure we had the right messages, supporting images, and rewards to offer a good range to encourage our customers to pledge.

With the crowdfunder ready to launch we applied for the North East LEP’s match funding through the form in crowdfunder. As we had all the content already in our campaign applying was really easy and only took a few minutes. Knowing that we had the LEP on board early after launching helped us to drive the campaign forward.

What difference will the match funding from the North East LEP make

The match funding will make a huge difference. As a coworking space, we’re here to support our local business community. Pledges from our supporters will help to cover our costs in the short term and allow some minor improvements. The North East LEP match funding provides a huge boost for us to be able to make changes which will impact the space and provide our current – and new – coworkers with the confidence to come back to Flintlab.

Would you encourage other businesses to start their own crowdfunding campaign using Crowdfund North East LEP?

Without hesitation. Every business can benefit and with the proper consideration and planning, crowdfunding can be an exciting project for both your business and your customers. It’s a great way to show everyone that you’re committed to driving your business forward – and that they can play an important role in supporting your business.

You can visit Flintlab’s crowdfunder page by clicking here.

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New Chair and Board Member help to shape investment in region

Andrew Moffat and Mark Thompson
Andrew Moffat and Mark Thompson

Andrew Moffat CBE has been made Chair of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Investment Board, and the Board has also welcomed a new member, Managing Partner of Ryder Architecture, Mark Thompson.

 

 

 

 

Andrew has been appointed as Chair of the Investment Board having served as a member for the past four years, taking on the role following the departure of former Chair, David Land. Both Andrew and Mark also serve on the main North East LEP Board.

The role of the North East LEP’s Investment Board is to help drive growth within the North East economy by overseeing the delivery of grant and loan funding programmes including the Local Growth Fund, Enterprise Zone investments and the North East Investment Fund.

Helen Golightly, Chief Executive of the North East LEP, commented: “The Investment Board is made up of five public and private sector members, plus three non-voting specialist advisers. The appointment of Andrew as Chair and Mark as a board member further strengthens the expertise which oversees the delivery of vital investment into strategic projects across our region.”

Andrew Moffat has extensive experience in financial, commercial and strategic roles in a range of international companies. He joined the Port of Tyne as the Finance and Commercial Director in 2007 before being appointed one year later to Chief Executive, a position he held until 2018 and was named a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in the New Year’s Honours List 2016 for services to the North East economy and UK ports. Andrew was also Chair of the CBI’s Regional Council in the North East and a member of a number of other local partnership boards focused on the delivery of economic regeneration.

Mark Thompson is managing partner of Ryder Architecture, where he is responsible for the strategic development of the highly successful design company with offices across the UK and a growing international portfolio from offices in Hong Kong and Vancouver.

The funding which is overseen by the Investment Board enables the delivery of significant capital and infrastructure projects including for example the regeneration of Sunderland’s former Vaux Brewery site, which will result in high quality office space, leisure facilities, hotel and residential accommodation, the development of a new conference and exhibition centre at Gateshead Quays and the International Advanced Manufacturing park – to name a few

Andrew Moffat said: “As our region looks to the future following the impact of COVID-19, projects like these will help shape our recovery, bringing more and better jobs to the North East.

“The region continues to be an attractive place for investors and the expertise of the Investment Board members, in ensuring that funding is allocated in a way which benefits people in the region, is vital.”

The five members of the North East LEP Investment Board are: Andrew Moffat CBE (Chair); Gillian Hall (Vice Chair); Mark Thompson; Councillor Iain Malcolm (Leader, South Tyneside Council) and Councillor Bruce Pickard (Deputy Elected Mayor, North Tyneside Council). The specialist advisers are: Jason Hobbs (CEO of the North East Fund Ltd); David Furness (Senior Director, BNP Paribas) and Ian Richards (Director, Northstar Ventures).

ENDS

 

 

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Crowdfund North East LEP: Heatherslaw Light Railway Company

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership has partnered with Crowdfunder to make up to £5,000 in match funding available to help small businesses continue to trade through the coronavirus pandemic.

Crowdfund North East LEP allows small businesses employing no more than 10 full-time equivalent employees to secure match funding to boost their own crowdfunding efforts.

There are 45,800 eligible small businesses across the North East and many are in urgent need of financial support. The funds released by North East LEP will provide urgent relief for those businesses most in need who do not qualify for other government funding schemes. The match funding is being sourced from the North East Investment Fund and will total up to £1 million.

Below is a case study of Heatherslaw Light Railway Company – a narrow gauge steam railway tourist attraction based in North Northumberland – who have benefited from Crowdfund North East LEP.

To find out more about Crowdfund North East LEP, raise funds for your business, or donate to a small business in need, please click here.

Please introduce yourself, your company, and tell us why you’re fundraising through Crowdfunder.

“I’m Darrell Smith and I’m the finance director of Heatherslaw Light Railway Company, a narrow gauge steam railway tourist attraction based just over the River Till from the Heatherslaw Cornmill in North Northumberland.

“We’re a family business; my father started the company 30 years ago. We employ five full-time members of staff and some seasonal workers too.

“As a seasonal business, we rely on the busy spring/summer period to carry us through the winter. Having been told we can’t open, we’re left with a hole in our revenue. Despite receiving grant funding from the Local Authority under the business rate relief scheme, as well as participating in the Government backed COVID-19 guaranteed loan scheme, our business would have struggled to survive without using Crowdfunder.”

How easy was it to set up your crowdfunding campaign and apply for the North East LEP’s match funding?

“It was great, refreshingly clear and easy. It’s a really good platform and very easy to get your message across.”

What difference will the match funding from the North East LEP make

“It gives us two-three months of covering costs until we can open again. It’ll be the difference between exceeding the overdraft limit, and not. It will also help us manage the lower visitor numbers we’re expecting due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Over the winter we have a lot of statutory maintenance works to carry out in preparation of opening in the spring/summer, where we make our revenue.

“As a key attraction for the local area, we attract over 30,000 visitors to the estate, which helps to supports jobs in other local businesses.

“The response to the Crowdfunder has been amazing. Someone donated £400 anonymously and another person donated £500 to have his daughter’s name put on a carriage.”

Would you encourage other businesses to start their own crowdfunding campaign using Crowdfund North East LEP?

“It depends on the businesses, but as long as you meet the criteria and have goodwill amongst your customers then yes, why wouldn’t you? If you’re providing something people value, it’s the ideal platform. It’s very easy to set up.”

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Up to £5,000 available in match funding for SMEs via Crowdfund North East LEP

North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) makes up to £5,000 in match funding available to any small businesses continuing to trade through Crowdfunder’s Pay it Forward.

  • The COVID19 crisis has forced thousands of small businesses to close their premises.
  • Crowdfunder UK has launched Pay it Forward to enable small businesses to keep trading by pre-selling goods and services.
  • The North East LEP will match pound for pound the money raised by eligible North East small businesses through Pay it Forward, awarding up to £5,000.
  • Crowdfunder has scrapped all platform fees and is covering transaction charges to make the scheme 100% free.

Match funding is to be distributed by the North East LEP to small businesses through Crowdfunder’s small business support scheme Pay it Forward. Small businesses, employing no more than 10 full-time equivalent employees, will be able to secure up to £5,000 in match funding to boost their own crowdfunding efforts.

Pay it Forward provides the infrastructure and coaching for small businesses to

1) pre-sell goods and services,

2) adapt and ‘pivot’ their business into new ways of working and

3) stay connected to their customer base.

There are 45,800 small businesses employing 10 or fewer full-time equivalent employees across the North East, many are in urgent need of financial support. The funds released by North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) will provide urgent relief for those small businesses most in need and who do not qualify for other Government schemes. The match funding is being sourced from the North East Investment Fund and will total up to £1 million.

Helen Golightly, Chief Executive at the North East LEP said: “Despite government’s best efforts, there are still some businesses in our region that are not eligible for government-backed grants or loans, leaving them vulnerable and at increased risk of closure.

“Many are turning to crowdfunding and the goodwill of customers and members of the public to generate some much-needed funds.

“Because of this, we’ve partnered with Crowdfunder to match fund appeals run by North East small businesses to ensure they receive the vital support they need at this time.

“Small businesses contribute significantly to our local economy and will play a key role in our economic recovery too.”

Eligible businesses must generate a minimum 25% of their target from crowdfunding before they can apply for match funding from the North East LEP. If their application is successful, half the grant will be pledged right away, and the other half when they reach their 75% of their fundraising target. Businesses that don’t reach their full crowdfunding target will still receive match funding, up to a total of £5k.

Rob Love, CEO, Crowdfunder said: If you’re a small business whose livelihood has been turned upside down as a result of COVID-19, we are here to help. The power of Pay it Forward is to keep small businesses trading, help them think about their recovery, and to put them in a position to bounce back quickly.

“The continued trading through Pay it Forward, by pre-selling goods and services, ensures businesses can stay connected with their customers and enables entrepreneurs to adapt their offering.

“We are proud to partner with North East LEP to keep small businesses trading, retaining jobs and innovating for a brighter future”

Helen Golightly continued: “There’s been a real momentum around supporting local businesses with people buying gift vouchers and ordering take outs or deliveries to help small businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We want to encourage more people in the North East to support local traders, which is why we’ve promised to match every pound donated through an eligible Crowdfunder appeal, up to a maximum of £5,000.

“With the public’s support, that’s more than 200 small businesses in the North East that will benefit.”

How it works:

  1. Small businesses can set-up a Pay it Forward campaign here: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/funds/crowdfund-north-east-lep
  2. Once set-up the small business can pre-sell their goods or services and adapt their offer to engage existing customers and potentially reach new customers as well.
  3. The small business sets a financial target to meet and throughout the process, coaching is provided by Crowdfunder to support the small business to meet their target.
  4. Once the financial target is met, match funding is released from the Crowdfund North East LEP monies.
  5. The total sum of the money is then released to the small business

The North East LEP is leading the North East COVID-19 Economic Response Group, a partnership that includes the CBI, North of Tyne and North East Combined Authorities. The group was launched, with the support of industry, to provide maximum support for businesses in the immediate term and plan for long-term economic recovery following the COVID-19 outbreak.

For more information about the North East LEP and the North East COVID-19 Economic Response Group, visit www.northeastlep.co.uk.

 

For more information about Crowdfund North East LEP, visit https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/funds/crowdfund-north-east-lep

 

-ENDS-

For more information, images or interview requests, please contact [email protected] or call 07948 563 612.

Notes to editors

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is a public, private, and education sector partnership that covers Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside and Sunderland local authority areas.

Crowdfund North East LEP may pledge up to 50% of a project target, up to a £5,000 maximum pledge.

A pledge of grant support from the North East LEP will be triggered if:

  • The business has reached 25% of its funding target from crowdfunding
  • At least 10 unique backers have pledged towards your target
  • An application for North East LEP pledge is approved
  • Once 25% of your target is reached, a match funding pledge of 25% (max £2,500) will be made. When the appeal reaches 75%, the second pledge of an additional 25% (max £2,500) will be made.

To access the match funding businesses must:

  • Be a small business with no more than 10 full-time equivalent employees
  • Be a) an existing registered business, charity or b) sole trader operating for at least 12 months
  • Be able to demonstrate the business has been adversely affected by COVID-19
  • Be seeking to raise a minimum of £2,000 (i.e. seeking a minimum match fund contribution of £1,000)
  • Those businesses not eligible for the Small Business Grants Fund or Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund will be given priority.

Full eligibility criteria can be found at https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/funds/crowdfund-north-east-lep

About Crowdfunder’s small business support scheme, Pay it Forward,

Small businesses fighting for survival can set-up a Pay it Forward campaign to pre-sell their services and diversify trading now to ensure continuous cash flow throughout the crisis. Crowdfunder is covering all platform and transaction fees making it 100% free to small businesses. Over the course of four weeks, £4 million has been raised by small businesses across the UK through Pay it Forward.

 

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Rural and food processing businesses in the North East can apply for growth funding.

If you operate in the tourism, food processing or rural business development sector, you could benefit from up to 40% capital grant funding following the opening of Round 3 of the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) Growth Programme which aims to unlock business investment across the region to create jobs and growth. The Growth programme is managed and administered by the Rural Payments Agency.

The RDPE Growth Programme offers funding for capital projects that create new jobs and grow the economy in rural areas. Funding is available for tourism projects, for the growth of food processing, and for the development of rural businesses such as through the purchase or development of machinery or facilities.

Dinah Jackson, Programme Manager at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP), said: “We want to our rural businesses to secure as much of the funding available as possible and encourage businesses to apply to the Rural Payments Agency  if they are currently considering investment for growth. The availability of this grant funding for capital projects compliments other business support available in the region, to enable businesses to grow and thrive and bring benefit to the region’s rural economy.”

Three separate capital grant funds are available: Rural Business Development Grants, Rural Tourism Infrastructure Grants and Food Processing Grants. The minimum grant is £20,000. The grant can be used to fund up to 40% of eligible project costs.

To be eligible for the Rural Business Development and Rural Tourism Infrastructure grants, businesses must be located in the eligible rural areas of County Durham, Northumberland and Gateshead and within the North East Rural Growth Network boundary. You can see a map of this area here. Food and drink businesses from across the North East LEP region that process agricultural and horticultural products are invited to apply.

Businesses interested in applying for funding are invited to attend an information event with the Rural Payments Agency where further details on how to apply, the selection criteria and examples of previous successful applicants will be available. This will take place in Newcastle on Tuesday 10 December 2019, from 9:30am to 1pm. For further details on this event and to register, click here.

The deadline to submit an expression of interest is midnight on 16 February 2020. Should your expression of interest be successful, the Rural Payments Agency will invite a full application to be submitted. The Rural Payments Agency will agree a target end date with all successful applicants. The final date by which all projects must be finished, paid for and complete grant claims submitted is 30 September 2021.

For further detail on the grants available visit the North East Growth Hub. Or contact the Rural Payments Agency direct if you unsure if you are eligible to apply.

Tel: 03000 200 301 Email: [email protected]

What types of projects can the Growth Programme fund?

Here are some examples of the kinds of projects that could be eligible for a grant:

Rural business development grants – New equipment or machinery that creates productivity and efficiency gains, new premises or facilities that diversify farming activities

Food processing grants – Expansion of a meat cutting and processing plant to meet new international markets, a new milk processing facility or expansion to an existing soft fruit processing facility to enable processing of lower quality and lower value fruit to supply growing markets for end products

Rural tourism – New footpaths, bridleways or cycle paths, extending a local museum or new high-quality visitor accommodation

 

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Funding available for business Incubator space

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP) is inviting applications from Incubator projects which match the strategic aspirations set out in the Strategic Economic Plan and the innovation programme with significant potential to make a demonstrable contribution to the Incubator network within the region.

Projects must demonstrate clear links to the Strategic Economic Plan and be able to provide a clear and coherent programme of business incubation support.

We anticipate that the North East LEP will be asked to fund around 50% of the capital costs of the (re)development incubator space (subject to State Aid). The maximum grant available will normally be up to a maximum of £500,000 however in exceptional circumstances, where there is clear demand and a strategically significant project is put forward a higher level of funding may be awarded.

Prospective applicants, who can be from public, private or voluntary sector, are encourage in the first instance to read the Project Call Information document which can be found along with other supporting information on our funding page.