Crowdfund North East LEP: Worldbeaters

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 Worldbeaters – producers of the acclaimed interactive street theatre show, Spark!, – which 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.

I’m Chris Maines-Beasley, a Director of Worldbeaters based in North Shields. We are producers of Spark! – an interactive street theatre show that combines drumming, movement, clowning, dazzling costumes and lots of light! We created the show in 2012 here in the North East, and it has toured the world ever since!

Arts and events have been hit as hard as any other other sector by COVID-19 and we know we have to adapt our show for the new realities ahead. Our biggest asset is our bank of self-employed performers. We depend on them as much as they depend on us, so it was crucial that we found a way to support them during this difficult time. Crowdfunding was a perfect fit as it connected us to our many fans around the world for them to directly support a show they love.

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

It was pretty straightforward. There was minimal form filling: just all the info that any business will already have to hand.

Then came the fun part of creating our ‘message’.  We already had a lot of nice visual material that we could use and we had a real clarity of purpose in that 100% of the money raised is going directly to support our performers to rehearse and rework the show. That clear message was important. Crowdfunder provide lots of useful advice and resources on their site to help with this, and good supportive advice as the process went along.

We did not offer any tangible rewards, so we had to work hard to make the connection between the performers and potential supporters. That was really satisfying. The performers made a nice video speaking directly to supporters, and the feedback we had from those who donated was that that human connection to the ‘story’ of the performers was crucial.

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

It was absolutely essential for us and we would not have started the Crowdfunder without knowing it was available. To raise our £10,000 target on our own felt a little daunting, but knowing that the North East LEP would match half of that gave us the confidence to start.

We also know the match-funding was very important to our supporters and we made a lot of that fact that their £50 donation would actually be worth £100 to us after the North East LEP matched it. It made people feel like they were giving double and was a real win for us in getting donations.

All of the money raised is going to pay our performers for rehearsals and to adapt the show to be more COVID-ready. It’s crucial to ensure that we still have a show to offer when events resume again in the future.

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

Absolutely. Go for it! It’s such a flexible type of fundraising that you really can tailor your approach to fit almost any product or need. As well as the money raised, the act of crowdfunding helped us have a focus during these difficult times and to keep our team motivated for the future.

Upon successful completion of the Crowdfunder, the money was in our account within a few days. We were able to begin our COVID-safe rehearsals and start paying our performers immediately. It feels great to be back working together again.

I really recommend that North East businesses have a go at crowdfunding in this way. It was actually a lot of fun and has helped our business and our team to adapt and be in the best shape to hit-the-ground-running again when things pick up again. Hopefully we’ll see you out on the road soon!

Crowdfund North East LEP: Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue Team

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 Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue Team – a voluntary emergency service that provides a search and rescue service to the area covered by Northumbria Police – 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.

My name is Ninette Edwards, Fundraising Officer of the Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue Team.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and we were forced into lockdown, our team’s fundraising events were all cancelled, which would have brought in £15,000 to the team to cover our core operating costs. The crowdfunding campaign was the perfect opportunity to tell everyone how the pandemic had hit the team and to raise vital funds.

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

It was very straightforward to set up the crowdfunding campaign. Getting the right message out to potential supporters took some thought though, and I had never attempted a video message, which was a learning experience!

Crowdfunder told us that we were eligible for match funding through the North East LEP, and it was very easy to complete the extra form to apply for this. Having the targets of 25% and 75% to reach and receive the match funding kept the momentum of the campaign going, and gave us a huge boost.

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

With such a shortfall in our funding this year, the match funding will allow the Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue Team to stay on top of the core operating costs that allow the team to remain on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, without cutting costs.

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

Absolutely. The publicity for the team through the campaign really got the message across about the service we provide and how much financial support we need. We are a volunteer organisation and have to raise every penny ourselves to provide our life-saving service.

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.

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.

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.”