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Funding available for early stage Innovation projects

The North East is already home to excellent innovation assets supporting key sectors and facilitating open-innovation across our themes; but we know there are gaps and areas where we could do more. The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP) is therefore inviting bids from early stage innovation projects to come forward for development stage funding that will help to prepare Business Cases that can help deliver the ambition set out in our Strategic Economic Plan.

Projects that are able to demonstrate clear links to the SEP and key Government policy (such as the Industrial Strategy), and are anticipated to be of large scale and/or significant impact in key sectors are encouraged to come forward. Funding available through this call is to support the costs of getting projects ready to produce a high-quality business case for public or private investment. This could include a HM Treasury Compliant, Five-Point Business Case – the funds are not for projects at implementation/build stage.

We anticipate that the North East LEP will be asked to fund around 50% of the costs of the development of a project (subject to State Aid) up to a maximum of £100,000.

Prospective applicants, who can be from public, private or voluntary sector, are encouraged in the first instance to read the Project Call Information along with other supporting information on our funding page. Please note this call complements the broader Innovation Project Pipeline process but is not limited to projects already prioritised. If you have a project idea you would like us to consider for the pipeline please get in touch.

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Four new European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) calls open

Four new European Regional Development Fund opportunities have opened in the North East LEP area.

PA1 – Promoting Research and Innovation

PA3 – SME Support – Enhancing the Competitiveness of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises

PA4 – Supporting the shift towards a Low Carbon Economy in all Sectors

PA5 – Promoting climate change adaptation, risk prevention and management.

An information event is being held on 11 July 2019. Anyone interested in learning more about the opportunities above and the support available during the application process, can register to attend this event here.


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Looking to the future of the North East economy

We all know about the North East’s magnificent heritage, and the engineering feats that once made the region a global industrial power.

But our plan for the region’s future doesn’t rely on the past. Instead, it talks about the strengths we have today, and the innovations which will enable our economy to thrive now and in the future.

Tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today: that’s the thinking behind the North East Strategic Economic Plan – the blueprint for creating 100,000 more and better jobs in our region by 2024.

The Plan draws on the strength of our digital and energy sectors, and the work that’s making the North East stand out in health and life sciences, and advanced manufacturing. These are the areas which will drive the North East economy forwards.

Read the North East Strategic Economic Plan.

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North East LEP’s Local Growth Fund reaches half way milestone

More than half of the projects supported through the North East Local Enterprise Partnership’s Local Growth Fund have reached completion, marking a major milestone for the £270m fund.

Providing funding to major capital projects in all seven local authority areas, the Local Growth Fund is helping to create jobs, boost the economy and improve the quality of life for people living and working in North East England.

A promotional film – produced by the North East LEP – has been released to celebrate the Local Growth Fund’s halfway milestone. 

Andrew Hodgson, Chair of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “More than 50 individual projects have received funding through the Local Growth Fund ranging from major infrastructure projects like The International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP) in Sunderland and South Tyneside to transformative transport schemes, including the A1058 Coast Road corridor in North Tyneside.

“Funding was awarded to projects that helped achieve the objectives set of out in the region’s Strategic Economic Plan, which aims to support economic growth, improve productivity and increase the number of people employed in high quality jobs.

“All the projects make the North East a better place to live and work, and the improvements will be felt for generations to come. It’s not just about improving our economy, it’s also about improving quality of life for everyone that lives here.”

Minister for the Northern Powerhouse and Local Growth, Jake Berry MP said: “We are investing in the future of communities across the Northern Powerhouse and the whole country through the Local Growth Fund. The projects already delivered by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership with their share of the fund are changing lives by building the infrastructure, skills, jobs and confidence people need to thrive.

“Our modern Industrial Strategy is backing businesses to create high-paid, highly-skilled jobs in every part of the UK and I’m inspired by what has been achieved in the North East so far.

“I look forward to seeing how people across the North East continue to build on local strengths and embrace opportunities for a prosperous future with support from the Government.”

Heidi Mottram, CEO of Northumbrian Water and Vice Chair of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “When the Local Growth Fund from central government was put into place, we already had our Strategic Economic Plan in place so we hit the ground running.

“The things we believed we needed to invest in included infrastructure and improving transport; but the most important thing was to make sure the workforce here in the North East had the skills for the more and better jobs we’re creating.”

The new video profiles many of the projects supported through the Local Growth Fund, including the creation of a new Centre for Enterprise & Innovation, Hope Street Xchange in Sunderland, Europe’s first dedicated centre for emerging technology, PROTO in Gateshead, and the creation of a new Metro/bus interchange in South Shields town centre and a new learning centre for Tyne and Wear Metro workers. It also features interviews with key people leading each project.

To receive funding through the Local Growth Fund, projects had to demonstrate they could drive innovation and improve support for businesses; support economic inclusion and help develop skills infrastructure; or enhance strategic transport sites and public transport infrastructure.

Major infrastructure projects aimed at creating more and better jobs and further strengthening the North East’s key sectors include The Biosphere at Newcastle Helix, CPI’s National Formulation Centre at NETPark in County Durham, and Vaux in Sunderland’s Central Business District.

Dr. Graeme Cruickshank, Director of Formulation at CPI, said: “The investment in creating these world-class facilities is vital in enabling the North East to retain its core strength in chemistry and formulating sciences, ensuring this expertise is available to small and large companies and academic groups across the UK.

“This support has facilitated us to create new jobs at CPI’s National Formulation Centre and National Healthcare Photonics Centre, both at NETPark, as well as enabling us to directly support the innovation efforts of partners in this region and beyond.”

John Seager, Chief Executive of Siglion, the development partnership leading the Vaux regeneration project, said: “Regeneration projects in difficult markets are all about kick starting investment activity. The LGF funding for Phase 1 at VAUX has provided the essential seeds from which we can grow the ideal environment to attract private sector investment, both financial and in jobs – it’s absolutely transformational to the local economy”

Major road improvement schemes are continuing to take place across the region thanks to investment from the Local Growth Fund. Significant transport projects including the A1056 Weetslade Corridor, A19 and the Arches junction in South Shields will improve traffic flow, provide greater accessibility for pedestrians and cyclists, and support more people to use public transport.

The Local Growth Fund has also helped support sustainable transport projects across the North East in a bid to reduce congestion and protect the environment. Projects have included cycle schemes in Newcastle, Gateshead, Sunderland, Durham, South Tyneside and North Tyneside, as well as the refurbishment of Central Station Metro in Newcastle.

John Fenwick, Director of Finance and Resources at Nexus, said: “We have invested in new facilities for public transport users with support from the Local Growth Fund. This has included the development of a new transport interchange in South Shields and the modernisation of Central station on the Tyne and Wear Metro, in Newcastle.

“The LGF support has also enabled Nexus to invest in its workforce, with the creation of a new learning centre to meet all of our training needs. Construction of this training facility in South Shields town centre is well underway.”

Rural communities across the North East have benefitted from the Local Growth Fund with projects including East Durham College’s Houghall Campus and The Sill: National Landscape Discovery Centre in Northumberland National Park receiving investment to support the North East’s rural economy and thriving tourism sector.

Tony Gates, Chief Executive of Northumberland National Park Authority, said: “The North East has a unique identity, borne from a strong sense of pride and place, which is driven by the people that live, work and visit here.

“Our rural areas, with their rich natural resources, diverse economies, vibrant communities and close urban links, bring great value to the region. The visitor economy is one of our fastest growing sectors and one with the potential to significantly boost our economy for generations to come and create new jobs.

“Through its support for The Sill, the Local Growth Fund has brought new employment opportunities and helped to secure significant public and private investment in one of the most rural parts of the region. Attracting more than 150,000 visitors per year, The Sill has supported the growth of a number of local businesses and is well on its way to bringing a further £2.5m per year to this rural part of Northumberland.”

Projects that support local communities and improve skills have also received funding from the Local Growth Fund. The new 2,500-seater Newcastle Eagles Community Arena in Elswick provides a new community venue for sports participation, vocational training, and health & wellbeing.

Paul Blake, Managing Director of Newcastle Eagles said: “The Local Growth Fund was a pivotal building block in our development, which even in our early stages has seen significant job growth, jobs safeguarded for the long term and a number of new apprenticeships launched across several sectors.

“Our partnership with Newcastle College extends the educational reach in the building even further. A month into opening we are now building local networks in the West End to cement our sporting, health and wellbeing offer too.”

For information on all the projects supported by the Local Growth Fund, visit www.nelep.co.uk/funding

The Local Growth Fund film can be viewed on the North East LEP website, https://www.nelep.co.uk/funding/local-growth-funding.

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Regional business support platform, North East Growth Hub, welcomes new Connector

The North East’s leading online business support network, the North East Growth Hub, has strengthened its team of Connectors with the appointment of former International Trade Advisor, Craig Harrison.

Focusing on supporting the region’s creative and digital businesses to scale up through access to finance and funding and business support services, Craig brings a wealth of experience from working and supporting global Fortune 500 companies to local SMEs.

A former International Trade Advisor at Department for International Trade, Craig spent 13 years working in China and Japan for an international logistics and mobility company in a senior strategic sales and marketing role. Upon returning to the UK, he has worked within the creative and digital sector.

Craig said: “My role as a Growth Hub Connector is to provide impartial, one-on-one support to businesses working in the digital, creative and tech sectors, who are looking to grow and scale both domestically and internationally.

“As one of the fastest growing areas of industry in the North East, there are lots of businesses that need help and advice on everything from accessing finance and funding to help them expand, or business support services like mentoring, skills and apprenticeships to strengthen their teams.

“I’m able to help them navigate the wealth of support available in the region and find the right solutions for their business.”

Craig joins two other Growth Hub Connectors who provide a personal service from the online North East Growth Hub. The Growth Hub Connectors offer free support and guidance to businesses of any size and at any stage of growth.

Colin Bell, Business Growth Director at the North East LEP, said: “We’re delighted to welcome Craig to the team and benefit from his many years’ experience supporting and working with businesses, which more recently have been focused in the creative and digital sector. 

“More and more businesses in the North East are turning to the North East Growth Hub for advice on topics including exporting, procurement and Brexit. Craig’s experience of working internationally and helping companies to export will be vital as we prepare to the leave the European Union.”

For more information about Growth Hub Connect and to speak to one of the Growth Hub Connectors, visit www.northeastgrowthhub.co.uk or call 0191 561 5468.

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North East LEP publishes updated Strategic Economic Plan

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has today (Thursday 14 February) published its updated Strategic Economic Plan, which outlines how it will help create 100,000 more and better jobs for the region by 2024.

The newly updated plan reflects on recent changes to the global and national economy as well as the UK’s imminent departure from the European Union. It also looks at how the North East can maximise opportunities around the UK’s Industrial Strategy, particularly in areas such as green energy and an ageing population.

Andrew Hodgson, Chair of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “2014 saw the publication of the North East LEP’s original Strategic Economic Plan, which set out in clear terms our approach to growing the regional economy and creating 100,000 more and better jobs by 2024.

“Fast forward to 2019 and our ambition remains the same, but what has changed is the political and economic landscape we find ourselves in. We’re on the brink of leaving the European Union and a new Mayoral North of Tyne Combined Authority has been formed.

“It’s for those reasons and more we’ve chosen to launch a refreshed Strategic Economic Plan, one that reflects the significant changes we’re experiencing as a country, and a region.”

The North East Strategic Economic Plan identifies four areas of strategic importance that will improve the region’s economic competitiveness. They are the digital, advanced manufacturing, health and life sciences and energy sectors.

Five programmes of activity, delivered by the North East LEP and its partners, support these areas of industry to grow, helping boost the economy and create more jobs for the people that live and work in the region.

They include helping North East businesses to grow and scale, and to compete on a global level; embracing Industry 4.0 and integrating technology and innovation into everything we do; improving skills and careers education across the North East; forging better and more sustainable transport links across the region and Northern Powerhouse; and investing in major capital infrastructure projects.

Andrew continued: “Whilst the current economic and political climate may pose challenges for our region, it also provides a number of opportunities. The refreshed Strategic Economic Plan we’re launching today outlines how, as a region, we can maximise those opportunities to strengthen and grow our economy.

“A good example is the UK’s commitment to tackling climate change and promoting clean growth. Here in the North East we are the leading location in England for the wind energy sector and our world-leading businesses and strong local supply chain puts us at the very heart of the clean energy revolution.

“We’re also global players in the health and life sciences sector, with our infrastructure, expertise and research into ageing one of our major strengths. This year alone we’ve seen the arrival of The Biosphere and National Innovation Centre for Ageing at Newcastle Helix, and NETPark in County Durham continues to thrive, helping new and emerging health and life sciences business go to market.”

Since the launch of the Strategic Economic Plan in 2014, 64,600 new jobs have been created with 77% of those classed as better jobs, in managerial, professional and technical roles. The region has also seen improvements in its employment rate, economic activity rate and productivity.

Read a copy of the updated Strategic Economic Plan.

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The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) has opened new calls for projects worth more than £72.3m across the North East LEP area.

European Regional Development Funding

The North East LEP is holding a free information event to give local partners more details on the focus of the newly opened calls, what areas they will address and how a potential application for funding should be approached.

When: 17 October 2018, 9am (for 9:30 start) – 12.00noon    
Where: St James Park, Newcastle

Register for this event by 16 October 2017. Please note that places at the event will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

Find out more about the calls on our Funding page.

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Funding Opportunities with the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA)

The ESFA Transition Programme has launched four specifications for the North East LEP area, supporting four Investment Priorities:




IP 1.1:  Skills Support for the Unemployed

IP 1.2: Not in Employment, Education or Training (NEET) (15-24)

IP 1.4: Community Grants

IP 2.1: Skills Support for the Workforce

Further details can be found here. Full specifications can be found on Bravo; organisations not already registered on Bravo must do so before accessing the documents.

The closing date for applications is 17 SEPTEMBER 2018

Contact details of your local Technical Support Team can be found here.

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Local Growth Fund project in South Tyneside nears completion

A Local Growth Fund project to create three new state-of-the-art industrial units on Monkton Business Park, South Tyneside, is nearing completion.

The £5m scheme by Washington-based Hellens Group has introduced 58,000 square feet (5,387 square metres) of new industrial space to the Hebburn-based Business Park, which is expected to create over 100 jobs.

The agents for the units, GVA (www.gva.co.uk) and HTA Real Estate Ltd (www.htare.co.uk), are currently seeking prospective tenants from the manufacturing sector.

Gavin Cordwell-Smith, chief executive at Hellens Group, said: “We were delighted to receive £1.27m from the North East Local Enterprise Partnership’s (LEP’s) Local Growth Fund to support the build of these new industrial units, which are a real coup for the region.

“There are very few facilities of this size or spec in the North East so we’re expecting a lot of interest from companies located here already and those looking for a base in the region.”

In addition to funding from the Local Growth Fund, Hellens Group also received loan funding of £1.7m from the North East Investment Fund (NEIF), an evergreen loan fund also administered by the North East LEP.

Andrew Hodgson, chief executive of the North East LEP said: “This project is a fantastic example of the Local Growth Fund in action.

“The Fund was established to support industrial and commercial infrastructure projects across the North East LEP area. It’s great to see the development near completion as it will bring more jobs to the region and support our growing economy.”

The Northern Powerhouse and Local Growth Minister Jake Berry said: “This government is committed to boosting economic growth across the whole of the Northern Powerhouse and building a country that works for everyone. Through this investment of £1.27m from the Local Growth Fund towards the Monkton Business Park, we are giving businesses in the North East the tools and resources they need to expand and flourish.

Monkton Business Park has rapidly developed into a key business location in South Tyneside. The addition of the new units makes it one of the key Business Parks in the North East.

With close links to the A19 and A1, it offers businesses easy access to both Sunderland and Newcastle, and is well placed to serve manufacturers with supply chains north and south of the River Tyne. Importantly, it is less than 15 minutes away from the planned International Advanced Manufacturing Pak (IAMP) and Nissan’s Sunderland car plant.

The site is already home to a number of companies including Siemens, Hitachi Construction Machinery Ltd, Variable Message Signs (VMS) Ltd, Ford Component Manufacturing, Clugston Construction, Kier North and Keepmoat, along with many others.

Leader of South Tyneside Council, Councillor Iain Malcolm, said: “Seeing these much needed industrial units nearing completion is excellent news for South Tyneside. This project supports the Council’s strategic vision for economic growth across the Borough, providing first class business facilities, creating more job opportunities and making South Tyneside a place for the private sector to invest.

“It’s also fantastic that funding from the LEP’s North East Investment Fund and the Local Growth Fund has enabled the construction of these manufacturing units, which will offer new tenants opportunities to grow by tapping into the region’s supply chain.”

Simon Hill, Director at HTA Real Estate Ltd, said: “These units are specifically aimed at the manufacturing sector and we have already seen strong interest, which will increase on Practical Completion in August and when the Nissan supply chain contracts are awarded. The units are only 4.4 miles from Nissan and will therefore offer ideal accommodation for companies looking to expand or enter the North East market.”

The £270.4m Local Growth Fund, secured as part of the North East Growth Deal, supports the North East LEP’s delivery of the Strategic Economic Plan, which aims to create 100,000 more and better jobs by 2024. The North East Investment Fund was established as an evergreen loan funding to support capital projects that will lead to job creation.

For more information about the Local Growth Fund and North East Investment Fund, visit www.nelep.co.uk/funding