A once in a generation opportunity to modernise business support
Colin Bell, Business and Sector Growth Director at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, explains why evolution is key to simplifying the business support landscape to be meaningful for businesses
It won’t surprise anyone when I say that the business support landscape is too confusing and overly transactional. There are many reasons for this but perhaps the biggest contributor is the way funding is administered and governed.
If we truly want the UK to be the best place in the world to start and grow a business, then we need to grasp the once in a generation opportunity represented by the current LEP reform. This will allow us to break with the status quo while building on what works, creating regional ecosystems that deliver economic and business transformation while strengthening our global competitiveness.
However, there is a real and present danger – if we don’t act now then we risk merely evolving what’s gone before, and even worse, creating a post code lottery of locally focused small scale schemes that will result in limited impact and increased fragmentation; and inefficiencies that will exacerbate rather than address the weaknesses of the current funding and fragmented landscape.
Addressing the frailties of the system is relatively simple. We need to develop a way of working that effectively connects the essential pillars of regional economic development, which are Governance, Strategy, Funding and Delivery infrastructure.
Where these don’t work hand in hand, it leads to many of the existing issues that we are experiencing, such as inefficiency, confusion, duplication and unhealthy competition between stakeholders.
Modernising the landscape requires:
Creating systems that connect the essential pillars (Governance, Strategy, Funding, Delivery infrastructure) without dictating a one size fits all approach.
Developing regional strategy and frameworks that are built around businesses operational and competitive horizons.
The creation of a long term regional economic development ‘system’, backed by long term strategy and long-term funding.
A system that is focused on delivering impact and transformation rather than box ticking and transactional approaches.
The modernisation of the business support landscape by a) rethinking how we segment the business base to identify those with real underlying potential, and b) structuring support that directly tackles business pains and helps business to deliver the gains they’re striving for.
Building on the existing and proven ability of LEPs and Growth Hubs to align collective energy and resources towards clear and common goals and strategy.
The evolution of LEPs and Growth Hubs should be welcomed as a much-needed chance to modernise business support.
I know I’m joined by many in the belief that this is an opportunity to develop a landscape that enables genuine business and economic transformation. Through meaningful change, we can deliver powerful and integrated customer journeys and focused resource and energy on the businesses, programmes, and initiatives that make a real difference to the business community.
Get this right and it could be a powerful and effective way to support the government’s agenda to level up our regional economies.
In conversation with Ammar Mirza CBE, Business Growth Board chair, about the North East LEP’s annual review and the work of the Business Growth team
It’s been an emotional and dramatic time for North East businesses, and there’s more change to come. As crucial pandemic funding and support from the government winds down, the North East LEP’s Business Growth team is prepared to help businesses and employees to adjust, rebound, and seize their opportunities to be entrepreneurial and brave.
If the last year and a half has taught us anything, it’s the value of being able to adapt.
The early months of the pandemic were an emotional time. Talking to people faced with this storm, who were scared that they’d lost it all.
The team helped them plan a route ahead. We worked with people who had fallen through the cracks in support, and our partners all mucked in to support one another.
The time and effort they put in was nothing short of humbling. That’s why we do what we do, and why board members volunteer their time. Because we can see the difference we can all make together.
In 2020/21, we worked intensively with around 1,500 businesses of different sizes. Thanks to collaboration with the Business Growth Board and the Business Support Provider Network, we were able to support people starting a business, operating under COVID-19 restrictions, and even acting on new opportunities. We secured £4.4m to help North East businesses weather COVID-19.
We’re starting to see more optimism in the business community. But there’s still some caution and hesitancy. And every shift affects people differently.
Some sectors have never grown as quickly as they have over the last two quarters. But others simply haven’t been able to. That includes leisure and hospitality, and businesses that rely on large-scale events.
Professional services aren’t back in the office at the same scale, and that’s changed the dynamic in our city and town centres. With no commute, we’ve seen significant increases in productivity. But – with the gap between home and office blurring – we need to be mindful of people’s wellbeing.
Money remains the biggest enabler, and the biggest barrier. Many people still remain on furlough. And as the financial support provided during the lockdowns begins to wind up, we’ll see a lot more businesses struggle.
We’ll continue to work with good companies, so that they have a base to build from. But we’re seeing a seismic shift in what’s done, who does what, and how it’s done. Some businesses in the North East and beyond may not survive, in their current form.
But that’s not where our support ends. We’re working to ensure there are initiatives and opportunities in place to help people re-skill and up-skill. But – in parallel with that – we want to help individuals boost their aspiration, and their ambition.
Our aim is to galvanise the entrepreneurial spirit of the North East. We want to help more people start businesses, and grow them. For example, we’re now part of the MIT Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Programme, which saw the launch for a project aimed at increasing and retaining entrepreneurial talent in the region. That will continue in 2021/22.
This is a time of change, but that also means there are so many opportunities out there. We can use this shift to bring in a new breed of entrepreneur, and we’ll do everything possible to help them achieve their dreams.
Ammar Mirza CBE is an award-winning entrepreneur and business founder, and Chair of the North East LEP’s Business Growth Board.
Support available to develop innovation projects in preparation for future funding opportunities
North East organisations are being offered support from a team of innovation experts to prepare projects for future funding opportunities. Alan Welby, Innovation Director at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), explains how a pipeline of the most promising regional innovation projects and programmes in the North East is being championed on a national and international stage.
Securing funding for innovation-focused projects is a highly competitive process. Funding calls are regularly issued nationally or internationally, and bids must be extremely focused and well-developed if they’re to be successful.
That’s why we’re putting together a pipeline of North East projects which have the potential to have a real regional, national, and even international impact. Projects can come from any sector, but the important factor is that they are large in scale and have the promise to be successfully rolled out to domestic, commercial or industrial markets, and can help to increase investment in R&D and create new jobs in the North East.
The North East LEP can offer organisations support to ensure business cases are in the best possible shape to secure future investment and will act as a critical friend to help develop project ideas. We will help partners to identify public and private funding opportunities and ensure alignment with emerging strategic priorities. When funding calls open, we aim to have strong businesses cases ready from our pipeline and champion what our region has to offer.
We’re now inviting more organisations to come forward and apply to join our official Innovation Project Pipeline, so if you have a project that’s in development, we’d love to hear from you.
We’re particularly keen to hear about projects that complement the North East’s existing strengths in digital, health and life sciences, advanced manufacturing or energy, as these are areas where we know the region has the potential to be a world-leader.
Working together as a region gives us strength, and by combining the drive and ambition of North East innovators with the expertise of the North East LEP team, we can set up our region’s businesses for success.
What is electrification, and why is this change in energy production and usage important for the North East?
“Electrification is a key part of the government’s plan to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.
“Prime Minister Boris Johnson today (18 November) announced a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans from 2030, and hybrid vehicles from 2035, signalling the government’s commitment to its Net Zero 2050 strategy.
“Today, the North East is leading the UK’s electrification agenda and is best placed to capitalise on the global electrification mega trend driven by regulatory compliance for CO2 reduction and the UK’s Net Zero 2050 strategy. This is thanks to Nissan’s foresight to invest in the Nissan LEAF and Battery Plant production at its Sunderland Plant back in 2010, with production starting in 2013; and innovative SMEs such as AVID Technology and Hyperdrive Innovation driving the early electrification activity.”
“Electrification – in simple terms – is the transition of vehicle powertrains from petrol and diesel, to powertrains that use electricity.
“It represents a huge opportunity for the North East because of the established sectors we have in automotive and energy, as well as the skills and expertise we have around the tech involved in electric vehicle powertrains.”
Paul, you are the Chief Executive of the North East Automotive Alliance (NEAA) and Ryan, you are the founder of AVID Technology, which manufactures components for electric vehicles. Is the region well placed to capitalise on electrification? Why?
“Quite simply it’s our inherent capabilities. We are home to Europe’s most successful EV, the Nissan LEAF; to Europe’s first giga battery manufacturing facility, one of three EV battery manufacturing facilities in the North East; and we have the full power electronics, motors and drives (PEMD) capability here in the region – no other region in the UK can lay claim to that. In addition, the former Regional Development Agency, ONE NorthEast, invested in charging infrastructure and this investment has continued as Sunderland is home to the UK’s first superfast charging station, which opened in April 2019. In addition, 17 of the 21 automotive R&D sites across the region are focussed on electrification.
“We’re the only region in the country with these kinds of credentials. From this solid base we must continue to develop and build our capability and drive forward the electric agenda in the UK.”
“As a region we have real strengths in vehicle manufacturing, and a lot of talent and expertise in areas like motor controls, electric controls etc.
“The automotive industry is undergoing a huge transition because of electrification and we need to look at how we build capacity across the sector.
“The North East is well placed to respond because we already have one of the most established manufacturing sectors around electric vehicles in the world.
“There’s work to do to make sure we make the most of the transition to electrification and the opportunities it provides, but we already have a significant head start.”
How does electrification form part of the North East LEP’s wider decarbonisation and sustainability agenda?
“Vehicle omissions are one of the biggest contributors to CO2, so the electrification of the sector would have a huge impact. We see the automotive sector being an early adopter, with other sectors like construction, manufacturing, and rail following.
“Electrification is a huge opportunity to address decarbonisation and the climate emergency.”
“A big part of the North East Strategic Economic Plan is focussed on advanced manufacturing, and electrification has a major role to play in that, particularly in sectors like automotive, transport and aerospace.
“The North East used to be based around heavy industry, where as now the new industries we’re growing are focussed around renewable energy, the production of machinery for renewable power, and clean transportation. The North East is a trailblazer in that way.”
What are your plans for North East electrification and what kind of timescales are we looking at?
“It’s happening now, programmes like EV North and Driving the Electric Revolution are driving the agenda for our vibrant North East electrification community. Through EV North, our members have set out their strategy and vision for our future.
“However, electrification and the technology going into future vehicles open up the market for non-automotive companies. We need to raise awareness of these opportunities and support companies to enter the market to grow our regional capability and help businesses diversify and become more resilient.”
“My company, AVID Technology, has been involved in vehicle electrification for the past 15 years. Electrification has reached a tipping point in that demand from the market has really grown in recent years. It’s important that, as a company, we’re in the right place to ride that wave and meet the market demand.
“Looking wider, along with Paul and the North East LEP, I’m really passionate about growing the ecosystem in the North East for the benefit of all the businesses working in relevant sectors. I want to help build the talent pool, grow the cluster, and see our region at the forefront of the sector.
“The new legislation banning the sale of new petrol, diesel and hybrid cars from 2035 and the climate change crisis have had a combined impact. Things have to change and we must address air quality and CO2 emissions. The answer is electrification.
“The legislation has actually made it easier for manufacturers to invest in electrification. Before, many weren’t willing to take the risk and only a handful were focussing on R&D. What the legislation has done is level the playing field, it has de-risked electrification for OEMs (original equipment manufacturer) and there is now a lot of investment in electric powertrain development.”
How will this help with the region’s recovery post COVID-19?
“Electrification is a huge market opportunity for the North East. Forecasts just for the PEMD market suggest growth of around £5bn by 2025, largely driven by the automotive sector, but expanding to more than £80bn by 2050 as electrification becomes commonplace in other sectors.
“We do need to consider the impact of our exit from the EU, particularly around rules of origin which drives requirements for UK content. There is, however, a lot strategic focus across the UK on supply chain development from UK Government, the Automotive Council, SMMT, the North East LEP, the NEAA and others.”
“We need to build a robust regional economy that’s based on creating things – high value-added products that have a long-term sustainable future.
“We need to be encouraging school children to have an interest in STEM subjects and bringing the right inward investments into the region. We also need to create the right environment for start-ups, and do all of this with a long-term view.
“We have to work to the coherent, long-term vision set out in the North East Strategic Economic Plan and help transform the region to high value-added, high tech jobs in engineering and design, low carbon technologies, renewable energy and electrification.”
How can people get involved and find out more?
“If anyone would like a conversation about the electrification agenda, please contact the team at the North East Automotive Alliance (NEAA). We really want to support companies to enter the market and contribute to its growth in the North East, and we have support programmes funded through ERDF to support SMEs on this too.”
Below is a case study about Newcastle University’s Arrow: Supporting Innovation in the North East programme, which accelerates the North East’s economic impact by pairing Newcastle University’s research, knowledge and innovations with the needs of local SMEs.
Arrow: Supporting Innovation in the North East gives SMEs access to more than 2,500 academics, innovators and experts at Newcastle University to help them develop new products or services, access new markets, or gain market share.
Arrow matches businesses with academics, innovation specialists and world-class researchers that can provide insight and expertise in areas such as research and product testing, data analysis and artificial intelligence.
The £3.4m innovation programme can also offer eligible SMEs up to £10,000 of match funding to buy services or equipment including; proof of concept and validation; survey and feasibility testing; product design; development and prototyping; analysis and testing; and commercial and contract research.
To date, more than 50 North East SMEs have received intensive innovation support from Arrow, including Your Health and Care Ltd, which provides complimentary services for people suffering from dementia, and Armatrex Ltd, which utilises expanding foam polymers to mobilise and support injuries.
Arrow works with companies to help drive their businesses forward through innovation and R&D support, leading to new investments and jobs. In line with the LEP’s Strategic Economic Plan, Arrow’s target sectors are; life sciences and healthcare; advanced manufacturing; creative and digital technologies; offshore, subsea and energy technologies.
To find out more about Arrow: Supporting Innovation in the North East, visit www.ncl.ac.uk.
Arrow is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
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.
The coronavirus pandemic has seen a period of accelerated change across the world that has left many businesses thinking long and hard about what the future holds.
The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP) and its partners have been supporting the region’s business community to manage the impact of the pandemic and also plan for our economic recovery. Our work continues to be guided by the North East Strategic Economic Plan, which sets out our ambition to create more and better jobs by growing four specific areas of industry – digital, advanced manufacturing, health and life sciences, and energy.
To complement and run alongside the North East Strategic Economic Plan, we want to delve even deeper into the emerging markets and future trends that will dominate the UK and global economies. What are the sectors and areas of industry that will provide the greatest economic growth opportunities in the future? And how can the North East capitalise on them?
To help us answer those questions, we’re seeking to appoint a specialist contractor that can undertake an independent markets foresight analysis on behalf of the North East. We want to identify the short, medium and long-term opportunities our region should focus on to support our immediate economic recovery, and those that will help grow our economy in the future too; creating jobs for local people, attracting investment in the region, and improving our economic activity rates and productivity.
Some of the potential areas of opportunity are in response to our current situation. Active and sustainable travel, for example, has rocketed during the coronavirus pandemic and there is more demand for environmentally friendly transport solutions. How can the North East use its world-renowned expertise and skills in the automotive sector to drive forward this green revolution?
Renewable energy made up almost half of Britain’s electricity generation in the first three months 2020, further bolstering the green energy sector. What does that mean for the North East? How can we grow our share of the market?
How well positioned are we in the region to respond to future technology developments that will affect trends in key sectors; for example autonomous vehicles, the ageing population, and the rollout of 5G – or even 6G capability?
This project is about future proofing the North East economy and making sure we’re ready to respond to global economic opportunities in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
The North East LEP would like to undertake the economic markets foresight analysis this year, and we invite interested suppliers to join us at a online supplier briefing event on Monday 05 October from 10:00-13:00.
Find out more about this exciting opportunity to help the North East shape its future competitiveness, and sign up to attend, by visiting the eventbrite page.
By Alan Welby, Innovation Director at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership.
IN CONVERSATION WITH…Colin Bell, Business Growth Director of the North East LEP and Ammar Mirza CBE, newly appointed Chair of the North East LEP’s Business Growth Board, talk about their aspirations for the future.
Ammar, you are a North East LEP Board member and the newly appointed Chair of the Business Growth Board. What is your ambition for this role?
The LEP is made up of individuals with significant experience, expertise and endorsement, representing the public, private and academic sectors, all with a shared ambition of making the North East a better place where we create more and better jobs, which is clearly even more important now.
Being the chair of the Business Growth Board is a privilege given the other members of the Board and the enthusiasm of Colin and his team to bring our strategy to fruition. My ambition is for our work to help our communities realise their goals and raise aspirations, ultimately making a sustainable, meaningful and measurable impact.
Colin – your Business Growth Board has had a bit of a shake up, with Ammar joining as Chair alongside five new people, and a number of long-standing board members supporting a strong executive team. How important it is to have a strong relationship between the board and executive and what are you most excited about for the future?
Having a strong and active board who keep me and my team on their toes, provide constructive challenge, are prepared to be active in supporting and promoting the North East’s business community and who bring ideas to the table is what I look for.
It’s therefore fantastic that Ammar is the new Chair of the Business Growth Board as that’s exactly what he brings. His approach is all about channelling energy, action and being a champion of the North East.
Ammar is supported by some fantastic new Business Growth Board members including Darren Laybourne , Director at Turner and Townsend who brings a wealth of experience in scaling a global business; Liz Bromley, CEO of the Newcastle College Group who runs one of the UK’s largest college businesses; Paul Butler, CEO of North East Automotive Alliance who brings an expertise in in business support and industrial clustering; Yvonne Gale, CEO, NEL Fund Managers, providing a vital insight into the investor community; and Steve Underwood, Director, Dentsu Aegis, one of the UK’s largest digital agencies. This formidable group of business leaders joins our existing board members: Toby Bridges, Chairman, NBT Group; Ryan Maughan, CEO, Avid Technology; and Kate Wickham, CEO, Gate 7.
You’re both at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19. How has this manifested into support for the North East business community?
Ammar: People are understandably confused, concerned and cynical of the future, which in turn demands a response that is relevant, responsive and regionally focused. The support led by the LEP and supported by a whole host of partners including the SME Centre of Excellence means that SMEs can get the right support at the right time to survive.
Colin: We are speaking with businesses every day to understand the practical challenges that they are facing and feeding intelligence to Government to inform them about what’s needed in terms of support.
At a regional level we are working closely with our partners to introduce initiatives to fill the cracks, such as Crowdfunder North East and the enhanced grant funding for the supply of PPE via Supply Chain North East. We are increasingly looking to the future and are currently working with Ammar and the Business Growth Board to develop a plan of action to support businesses through the restart phase so as many as possible bounce back strongly from the current situation.
The North East Growth Hub has seen a huge increase in businesses engaging with it and is becoming the go-to hub for information relating to not just COVID-19 but all business support and access to finance in the region. What impact is this having and why is it important?
Ammar: Having a single source of credible and up to date information is critical to help individuals access the support they need, especially in challenging times. The Growth Hub has always been a rich resource to help SMEs thrive. Given the substantial number of service providers that feed into the Growth Hub, together with the Connectors who are able to provide one-to-one support, everyone accessing the service will benefit.
Colin: Businesses want access to simple and impartial support and guidance. The Growth Hub brings all support into one place and does not have any vested interests or targets to refer businesses to particular schemes – we are 100% focused on what’s right for the businesses.
Our highly experienced Growth Hub Connectors are there to have open and honest discussions with business owners. During the crisis they’ve been able to help remove some of the anxiety by helping them to see a path through the confusion and engage them on support and funding options of which they were perhaps unaware.
The North East LEP and the North East Growth Hub have been combining forces with other organisations to deliver support. Why is that partnership approach important?
Ammar: The North East is renowned for being the friendliest place in the country, and never has friendship and partnership been more important. The LEP has always acted as an enabler, recognising that we must create a community underpinned by a collaborative campaign to develop an effective eco-system that will help our region restart, revive and ultimately thrive. It is this partnership approach that will help us progress to a better place.
Colin: The Growth Hub is an impartial and trusted broker and we work with businesses to understand challenges and opportunities and then connect them with the people, organisations and solutions that we believe are best for them.
The delivery of support is carried out by our partners who are national and locally based and from the public, private and education sectors. We work closely with our partners through the Business Support Provider Network, which provides a forum to align their collective efforts to the delivery of economic strategy and to inform the development of business support and finance solutions that will deliver the greatest impact to businesses.
What should businesses be thinking about now in terms of recovery and readying for a recession?
Ammar: The three biggest enablers to success for any organisation are digital transformation, innovation and new markets. These factors are even more critical to the recovery of our economy and that is where the Business Growth Board is focusing all its attention and efforts. This includes working with the Michigan Institute of Technology Team and key stakeholders to develop an eco-system that gives our whole region a competitive advantage and an accelerated recovery plan.
Every business should be planning and preparing for the future in an innovative, inclusive and industrious manner. Especially as the North East started the industrial revolution.
Colin: Businesses need to consider what they have learnt through the pandemic that they can use to give their business an edge moving forward. This may be things like honing into new market opportunities, developing new ways of working, harnessing technology and unearthing new capabilities within their teams.
People are pulling together to support one another through the current situation. How can business leaders follow this through into the recovery and harness the fire in people’s bellies, their collective energy, passion and creativity to deliver a better future – it’s by no means going to be easy but it’s our fighting spirit, grit and determination that will help the North East to bounce back.
North East Business Growth Board welcomes five new members
Five new appointments have been made to the Business Growth Board of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), supporting the LEP in achieving its aim of creating 100,000 more and better jobs in the North East.
Liz Bromley (Chief Executive of Newcastle College Group); Paul Butler (CEO of the North East Automotive Alliance); Yvonne Gale (CEO of NEL Fund Managers); Darren Laybourn (Director of Construction Management Consultant Turner & Townsend); and Steve Underwood (Managing Partner for Dentsu Aegis) have all joined the Board, which is chaired by entrepreneur Ammar Mirza CBE.
Colin Bell, Business Growth Director at the North East LEP, commented: “The role of every member of the Business Growth Board is to support the North East LEP and its partners to build an ambitious and thriving economy in our region.
“As businesses across the North East begin to look at how they can recover from the impact of COVID-19, the Business Growth Board will play an important part in supporting businesses and helping to secure the long-term economic recovery of our region.”
Ammar Mirza CBE, Chair of the Business Growth Board, said: “The Board is made up of individuals with significant experience, expertise and endorsement, representing the public, private and academic sectors, all with a shared ambition of making the North East a better place where we create more and better jobs, which is clearly even more important now.
“The LEP has always acted as an enabler, recognising that we must create a community underpinned by a collaborative campaign to develop an effective eco-system that will help our region restart, revive and ultimately thrive. It is this partnership approach that will help us progress to a better place.”
Liz Bromley, Chief Executive of Newcastle College Group, has held a number of senior roles in education, including at the University of Salford and Goldsmiths, University of London. She has also been a board member of the National Centre for Entrepreneurship in Education, the CBI North West and a governor and trustee of the Sir John Brunner Foundation, among many other non-executive roles.
Paul Butler established the North East Automotive Alliance in 2015 and it quickly became the leading automotive cluster in the UK. As a cluster benchmarking expert for the European Secretariat for Cluster Analysis, Paul brings insight into business support eco systems from across Europe. Paul has extensive knowledge of the region’s business base, having previously spent 10 years with the North East Process Industry Cluster and has supported the delivery of the UKTI Trade services across the North East. He has also previously run his own publishing business.
Yvonne Gale is CEO of NEL Fund Managers, a North East impact investment firm where she is responsible for its strategic direction and leadership. Yvonne is a finance specialist passionate about improving access to finance for small businesses and enabling economic growth.
Director of Construction Management Consultant Turner & Townsend, Darren Laybourn has more than 32 years’ experience of delivering many of the region’s most complex real estate and infrastructure programmes. The business has circa 7000 people across 115 offices working with clients on the world’s largest projects and programmes.
The fifth new appointment to the Board is Steve Underwood, Managing Partner for Dentsu Aegis, a global marketing services group that employs over 45,000 people across 143 countries, delivering solutions for clients that enable them to succeed in the digital economy.
Colin Bell added: “The Business Growth Board brings together some of the most skilled and ambitious people from our business and academic communities and I’m looking forward to working with our new Board members to support businesses of all shapes and sizes to grow, create new jobs and bring positive changes to communities in our region.”
Notes to editors
The members of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership Business Growth Board are:
Ammar Mirza CBE (Chair)
Toby Bridges (CEO of the NBT Group Ltd, Chair of The Exchange North Tyneside, Founding Director of Vytech Solutions Ltd)
Liz Bromley (Chief Executive, Newcastle College Group)
Paul Butler (CEO, North East Automotive Alliance)
David Coppock (North East Head of Trade for Department for International Trade)
Tom Frater (Policy Team Leader of the Government’s Cities and Local Growth Unit)
Yvonne Gale (CEO of NEL Fund Managers)
Councillor Peter Jackson (Leader of Northumberland County Council)
Darren Laybourn (Director of Construction, Turner & Townsend)
Ryan Maughan (Managing Director of AVID Technology Group Ltd)
Councillor Graeme Miller (Leader of Sunderland City Council)
Jane Robinson (Dean for Engagement and Place at Newcastle University)
Steve Underwood (Managing Partner for Dentsu Aegis)
North East LEP bolsters Supply Chain North East to rise to PPE challenge
The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has bolstered the North East Growth Hub’s Supply Chain North East programme to help regional businesses rise to the ongoing UK-wide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) challenge.
A flagship North East LEP business growth scheme, Supply Chain North East is delivered by RTC North in partnership with NEAA, NEPIC and Generator/Digital Union.
Capital grants programme enhancements have been made in recognition of the constraints faced by many businesses at present.
They include the ability for the Supply Chain North East scheme to make payments at the start of a project. SMEs can also access up to 60% in grants (increased from a cap of 40%) towards stalled pipeline projects due to COVID-19 or activities aimed at developing the supply chain.
Critically, grants up to 80% are available for organisations which can potentially support supply chain needs relating to the health and social care sectors, for example in the provision of PPE, respirators and other products. The funding has been made available from Government’s Local Growth Fund via the North East LEP.
Colin Bell, Business Growth Director at the North East LEP, said: “The changes to the Supply Chain North East programme are significant because they provide the ability to speed up the supply of PPE and other products and services needed in the fight against COVID-19.
“We are determined to give businesses the support they need to unlock projects that will allow them to thrive in the future and this is big step towards that goal.”
Jamie Ollivere, Managing Director at RTC North, said: “In response to COVID-19, it’s vital businesses know that through the Supply Chain North East programme they can get immediate support. Our team is poised to help businesses respond directly to supply chain demands in healthcare and to support other projects that will help them build resilience and put them on a path back to growth.”
Supply Chain North East is a multi-million pound programme aimed at revolutionising the way SMEs diversify their offering and embrace new markets. The programme is receiving £3,148,513 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund, as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. Funding of £800,000 has been made available for the grants from the North East LEP’s Local Growth Fund from Government.