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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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£3 million funding awarded to Northumberland robotics test site

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Image: Madow Well Connected).

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Funding awarded to help North East businesses recover from COVID-19 impact

More than £235,000 in funding has been awarded to help North East businesses in a range of sectors recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The funding will result in the creation of 12 different business support projects, for North East businesses operating in areas including the cultural sector, food and drink, digital and manufacturing.

Colin Bell, Business Growth Director at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), explained: “The North East COVID-19 Economic Response Group was created very quickly after the effect of the pandemic on our region became apparent, and it is coordinating a response which prioritises job creation and investment in our people, infrastructure and innovation.

“As part of this response, the North East LEP is providing funding that will enable business support organisations to put in place new ways of helping businesses in a variety of sectors to rebuild and move forward.”

The money is part of the Local Growth Fund which helps to create jobs, boost the economy and improve the quality of life for people living and working in North East England.

The programmes which have been awarded funding through this latest round of grants include a programme to help digital businesses promote vacancies to people in the region who have been made redundant during the pandemic; an innovation accelerator for the pharmaceutical sector in the region; and a programme to support the economic recovery of the creative and cultural sector in Durham.

Ian Pilkington, Chair of Food and Drink North East (FADNE), which has been awarded funding to support food and drink businesses in the region, said: “Targeted, sector specific and specialist business support is a fundamental part of the FADNE strategy and key to unleashing the potential of our vibrant food and drink sector and supporting its growth in a meaningful and measurable way. We are delighted to be working with partners such as the North East LEP and NBSL and look forward to launching our Speaking From Experience programme early in the New Year.”

Paul Butler, CEO of the North East Automotive Alliance, which will use its funding to develop the region’s electric vehicle cluster, EV North, said: “North East is leading the UK’s electrification agenda. However, we cannot rest on our laurels, we must continue to develop our capabilities in this area and ensure our businesses are best placed to capitalise on this global electrification mega trend. We are delighted to receive this support to enable us to move our EV North activities forward.”

“This is a critical time for many businesses in our region, which have been hit hard by the economic shock of COVID-19,” said Colin Bell. “The North East has an efficient, coordinated response which I am confident will put us on the path to a stronger post-pandemic economy and this funding will help to make sure that no one is left behind as we move towards recovery.”

Find out more about the North East COVID-19 Economic Recovery Group here.

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The benefits of open innovation

Many people don’t know what open innovation means, but ultimately, it’s just a way of working together to develop competitive advantage, says Alan Welby, director of innovation for the North East LEP.

While businesses frequently rely on their internal teams and knowledge to develop a competitive edge, open innovation can provide an exciting and beneficial alternative.

Open innovation can take lots of different forms and is often described in a variety of ways. For example, people might use the terms challenge activities or sprints but at its core, the premise is very simple. It’s a means of sharing a work context or problem within a safe wider environment so that partners, and sometimes even competitors, can help find a way forward.

It’s the idea behind Challenge North East, a new open innovation programme that we are running here at the LEP.

We are offering SMEs up to £5k grant funding between January and March 2021 to develop solutions to specific challenges caused by COVID-19, with the possibility of being in the running to win a grant of up to £40k to scale the most impactful solution in each area.

The first call in the programme is called ‘Together again: Delivering safe and engaging in-person events’ and it seeks answers to how people might be able to gather safely again indoors and outdoors, while achieving an engaging experience for those watching at home.

The second Challenge North East call is known as ‘Safe Again: Adapting home-based services’. Those who have ideas for new ways of working for those who deliver and rely on in-home services will be eligible for funding and development support.

We’re excited and hopeful about what the regional business community will come up with. The North East is a place that traditionally likes to solve problems and is entrepreneurial by its very nature.

A great example of this is the Northumbrian Water Innovation Festival where, to use their own description, they “gather some of the greatest and most innovative minds from the worlds of business, science, tech, engineering, utilities and customer services and get them to tackle real world problems together in a series of sprints.”

To achieve this, they create a trusted environment in which issues can be discussed and collaborative solutions found. The goal is for this type of approach to become mainstream.

Through Challenge North East we want to show that we are better at open innovation than elsewhere in the UK and become a hotspot for this kind of thinking and action. That needs us to create a culture in which looking outwardly to innovate is the norm, so that our organisations flourish and other businesses want to invest here.

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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.