Introducing our Innovation Programme

Alan Welby
Alan Welby, Innovation Director

Innovation encompasses the development of new ideas, products, processes and services (no matter how big or small!) which deliver new approaches to challenges faced by businesses, individuals and communities.

Innovation is central to the Strategic Economic Plan’s long-term ambition to build a more productive North East: stronger innovation delivery will improve our productivity performance and catalyse growth in ‘better’ jobs

Alan Welby
Innovation Director

Meet the Innovation team
Alan Welby Alan Welby
Innovation Director
[email protected]
Rebecca Furness Rebecca Furness
Programme Support Officer: Innovation
[email protected]
Dinah Jackson Dinah Jackson
Programme Manager
[email protected]
Andrew Leigh Andrew Leigh
Project Coordinator
[email protected]

Here’s how the Innovation Programme links into the key areas of the Strategic Economic Plan:

We are curating an open innovation programme, Challenge North East, based on global best practice and drawing on existing regional strengths. Open innovation is fundamentally about collaboration with people and organisations. Our aim is to grow the culture of open innovation in the region to increase commercialisation and productivity.

We work with partners across the region, to identify and develop an evergreen pipeline of game-changing regional innovation projects.  We support the pipeline projects to produce compelling and robust propositions which are best placed to attract national funding and grow the North East asset base.

Our aim is to accelerate investment into the region by winning a greater share of national innovation funding competitions and supporting private sector co-investment

We support the cohesion of the North East innovation ecosystem in a variety of ways including through the development of emerging projects, providing support through steering groups, collaboration with the Business and Sector Growth team and the North East Growth Hub and engaging regional assets such as universities and catapults to foster collaboration and alignment.

Visit the North East Growth Hub

With the North East LEP’s Business and Sector Growth team, we work with partners to lever private funding and have developed a roadmap for increasing the levels of private sector finance invested in the region’s innovative businesses, which is recognised as an area in which the North East falls behind the rest of the UK.

We are testing a novel concept of ‘Innovation Delivery Partnerships’ (IDPs) with regional partners to grasp opportunities in emerging markets in areas of regional strength. IDPs will be self-governing partnerships of businesses and organisations across the stages of innovation cycle. IDPs will focus on specific market opportunities and will support the growth of the North East’s competitive market share in these areas.

In this space we have developed an economic input-output model which calculates the potential economic impact of investment made across a range of innovation and business growth activities. This enables us to demonstrate the importance and benefit of public finding.  At a pan-northern level, Innovation Director, Alan Welby, chairs the NP11’s Innovation Group.

Meet the Innovation board
Gillian Hall Gillian Hall
Chair of Innovation Board, member of Investment Board
Tony Appleton Tony Appleton
Innovation Board Member
Estelle Blanks Estelle Blanks
Executive Director, Innovation SuperNetwork
Professor Michael Capaldi Professor Michael Capaldi
Dean of Innovation and Business
Dr Colin Herron Dr Colin Herron
Innovation Board Member
Patrick Melia Patrick Melia
Chief Executive of Sunderland City Council
Lee Viney Lee Viney
Regional Manager at Innovate UK
Dr Nicola Wesley Dr Nicola Wesley
Innovation Board Member
Professor Michael Whitaker Professor Michael Whitaker
Innovation Board Member
Councillor Nick Forbes Councillor Nick Forbes
Leader of Newcastle City Council

Latest Innovation news

Challenge North East: the story so far

Challenge North East is an innovation programme, launched to identify solutions to issues created by COVID-19 and to enable SMEs to develop and test these…

CHALLENGE NORTH EAST LEADS ON INNOVATIVE COVID-19 SOLUTIONS

A challenge that called on North East businesses to generate innovative solutions to the Covid-19 crisis has reached a milestone moment. The North East Local…

How university collaboration, Northern Accelerator, is driving an innovation-led COVID-19 recovery

A collaboration between four North East universities – Durham, Newcastle, Northumbria and Sunderland – Northern Accelerator commercialises research to create sustainable businesses in the North…

In conversation with Dr. Phil Budden, senior lecturer at MIT’s School of Management, about the MIT REAP program

The North East LEP and key partners are currently participating in the prestigious Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program (REAP) led by MIT. Here Dr. Phil Budden,…

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…

In conversation with Paul Butler, Chief Executive of the North East Automotive Alliance, about the arrival of 5G and what it means for the North East

The North East LEP and the North East Combined Authority have long seen the opportunity for the North East offered by 5G technology. Can you…

Challenge North East launched to fund solutions to solve COVID-19-related issues

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is calling on the regional business community to help it solve some of the biggest Coronavirus-related problems. Through…

Universities support North East’s economic recovery: Innovation Northumbria: Incubator

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…

Open innovation programme launched to help tackle COVID-19 issues and fast track solutions.

Businesses invited to detail what issues they are facing due to COVID-19 disruption. A new programme has been launched by the North East Local Enterprise…


Get in touch

If you want to know more about how the Innovation Programme can support your business, you can call us on 0191 561 5420 or email [email protected]