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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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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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Universities support North East’s economic recovery: Teesside University secures funding for employee-focused mental health and wellbeing platform

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 from Teesside University about its support for mental health platform, Discova, which aims to help thousands of UK employees overcome problems affecting their mental health and wellbeing.

Discova – an innovative digital learning and support platform that helps company leaders and their employees battle common mental health issues via peer-to-peer support – was set up by North East Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Lizzy Hodcroft, and entrepreneur Emma Reilly.

Staff from Teesside University worked with Lizzy and Emma to help Discova raise £300,000 from government’s Innovate UK programme to accelerate the company’s plans for growth and expansion.

Innovation Manager at Teesside University, Omar Al-Janabi, provided innovation support through the Enterprise Europe Network’s Innovate2Succeed programme. He also introduced Discova to Komodo – a Tyneside web development and app agency – and authored the collaborative bid to Innovate UK.

Working alongside Komodo, Discova plans to launch its pioneering AI-assisted app in the next 12 months, further develop its online technology, invest in new staff, and strike up partnerships with like-minded businesses.

Discova is an anonymous platform that allows employees suffering from common mental health issues to seek help from others who have experienced similar problems.

Laura Woods, Director of Academic Enterprise at Teesside University, said: “We are delighted to have been able to help Discova, particularly as Innovate UK receives more than 1,800 applications for funding per annum, only 2% of which are successful.

“Discova offer an essential service which makes a real impact on people’s lives and it is fantastic that they now have the opportunity to expand this vital support.”

To find out more about Discova, visit www.discovahealth.com.

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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Unique new fund announced to protect IP of Health and Life Sciences businesses in the North East

A unique new fund aimed at protecting the intellectual property of high value health and life sciences businesses in the North East has been announced by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP).

The COVID-19 Patent Protection Scheme is a £300,000 grant fund designed to support high-value proposition (pre-commercial) health and life science businesses negatively impacted by the coronavirus crisis and at risk of losing their patents and intellectual property due to lack of funds.

The scheme has been developed in direct response to the needs and demands of businesses operating in the health and life sciences sector, many of which have not qualified for government support or local authority grants.

Katherine Forbes, Health and Life Science Programme Lead at the North East LEP, said: “For early stage innovation and research-led businesses in the health and life sciences sector, protecting and retaining intellectual property is vital for securing investment and ensuring a strong commercial footing in the future.

“If we don’t support these businesses now we risk losing significant assets, talent and skills, and our future scale-up businesses from the region, and that will damage the sector as a whole.

“The health and life sciences sector is one of four areas of strategic importance identified in the North East Strategic Economic Plan. It has a vital role to play in our economic recovery, which is why the North East COVID-19 Economic Response Group – led by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership – established the COVID-19 Patent Protection Scheme.

“This Grant Fund is unique to the North East. So far, this has not been replicated in other areas of the country. It really demonstrates the North East’s commitment to growing the health and life sciences sector, which contributes more than £1.5bn GVA to the local economy every year.”

Pre-commercial, high value proposition businesses in the North East LEP area with life science-related patent(s) are invited to apply to the fund. Grants of up to £25,000 will be awarded to cover new or essential filings and the costs of retaining patents, or annual renewal fees of patents, incurred from 9 July 2020 – 31 March 2021.

More information is available is available by clicking here. Application forms can be requested by emailing [email protected].

The North East COVID-19 Economic Response Group was established by the North East LEP 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.

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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!