Innovation is all about energy

Colin Bell, Business Growth Director at the North East LEP, gives an insight into high growth businesses and how positive energy can make all the different to business growth.

It’s fascinating to work with high growth businesses; you know they are different as soon as you walk in the door. Why? Because you can feel the buzz of energy and excitement all around, everyone is cheerfully busy, people go out of their way to make you feel welcome, are totally engaged in what they are doing and although the rate of growth causes problems, they deal with them, as they are locked in a continuous state of adaptation and innovation.

What’s interesting about such businesses is that they don’t actually consider themselves to be innovative – it’s just the way they are and what they do!

The opposite is true of businesses that lack real growth potential; they lack enthusiasm, there is a feeling of negativity, people are reluctant to take ownership and responsibility, people don’t follow through on actions, mediocrity is the norm, anything involving risk is belittled – just writing this is sapping my energy.

Think about it, spend the day with a bunch of negative people and it will bring your energy levels right down, spend it with a group of positive people looking for a challenge (and a bit of fun) and your energy levels will go through the roof.

How can you harness energy?

“Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another.” Albert Einstein

If energy is critical to innovation then it’s essential that it be channelled into a form that is conducive to the creation of an innovation culture.

You can only feel energised about something if you are truly connected with it, gain pleasure from doing it and when it directly aligns to the fulfilment of your aspirations. Great leaders therefore make sure that they:

• get the right people, in the right places, doing the things that energise them;
• recognise that you can’t innovate in a vacuum and therefore develop a deep connection between their people and the organisation’s vision, values and purpose which provide the context for innovation and change;
• generate energy through achieving the optimum balance between personal and business aspirations;
• develop great teams, packed with ‘A’ players who all understand and are committed to get the best out of each other;
• set stretching goals that demand a different and better way of doing things and inject a sense of urgency;
• make sure that their people have the right balance of challenge and support to achieve high performance;
• invest their time in coaching and developing their people to be the best that they can possibly be;
• create an environment that doesn’t deal with problems, only solutions, that focuses on the ‘what if’ and the ‘can do’ rather than the ‘can’t do.’ Negativity is simply not tolerated (whilst challenging questions are).

Find more support and resources for businesses at the North East Growth Hub.

International Festival for Business 2016

From 13 June – 1 July 2016, thousands of businesses from across the world will descend on Exhibition Centre Liverpool for three weeks of events, networking and deal making as part of this year’s International Festival for Business.

A global marketplace that brings together leaders of industry from all corners of the world, the International Festival for Business is the UK’s biggest business event and offers organisations in the North East a unique opportunity to secure new customers, partners, and to exchange ideas and inspiration.

An evaluation of the 2014 International Festival for Business showed that companies secured £280 million of investment as a direct result of the event.

The festival is supported by the UK government and over its three-week run delivers a series of events, talks, workshops and dinners clustered round three themes; manufacturing, creative and digital, and energy and environment.

Colin Bell, Business Growth Director at the North East LEP said: “The International Festival for Business provides the North East with a huge opportunity. As a meeting place for the world’s business elite, it’s a place to network, share ideas but importantly, win and secure new business.

“It’s vital we have a strong presence at the event so we can showcase the world-class businesses and skills in our region. From creative and digital to offshore and marine, we are leading the way in key sectors. The advancements we are making in science and healthcare make us a world leader and the International Festival for Business is the perfect place for us to shout about our achievements.”

7,000 face-to-face meetings with potential new customers are expected to take place during this year’s event.

Festival Director Ian McCarthy said: “The festival will offer very concrete opportunities for companies to win new business from potential clients and customers from right across the UK and world.

“We know through the independent evaluation carried out that IFB2014 was directly responsible for some £280m of new sales and deals and our ambition is to help businesses achieve even more value.”

This year’s festival also includes an inspiring series of talks from speakers including former South African President FW De Klerk, key architect of the UK Northern Powerhouse, Lord O’Neil and CEO of Severn Trent Water, Liv Garfield. The Blue Skies series will take place at the end of each day at the Festival.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: “Britain is open for business, so for anyone involved in enterprise the International Festival for Business is the place to be. Make sure you’re there to make the most of it.”

To secure your place at the International Festival for Business 2016, visit

Brightest brains take on North East business problems

Durham University hosts UK and international maths, probability and statistics specialists this spring

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has teamed up with Durham University and the Smith Institute to offer a unique opportunity for the region’s businesses to have their problems solved by some of the world’s top maths, statistics and probability experts.

Durham University will be hosting the UK edition of the 116th European Study Group with Industry from April 11 to 15. The Study Group series includes one annual conference in the UK, which brings together specialists from all over Britain and beyond in order to seek solutions to maths-based corporate conundrums.

The North East LEP and Durham University are offering local businesses the opportunity to present to a team of expert thinkers the mathematical, statistical or probability problems that they feel are holding back their growth or preventing them from reaching their potential. The scientific panel will be able to consider industry issues of up to eight businesses, including some from the North East, and suggest ideas to tackle them.

In previous years, panels of the order of one hundred academics have worked with a wide cross-section of sectors and were always able to offer some novel approaches to help finding solutions.

Previous projects have included the use of track curvature as measured by cameras positioned on trains to determine their exact location; working out the best price for consumers for a large retailer; customer focused price optimisation; image analysis; decision support for nuclear arms control and studying the degree of mimicry of speech between people.

Dr Bernard Piette from Durham University’s Department of Mathematical Sciences, said: “We’re honoured to be hosting this year’s UK edition of the European Study Group with Industry at the Palatine Centre and Durham’s Collingwood College.

“It offers a chance to see how mathematics is used in the real world to offer solutions that can help businesses become more efficient or to boost their profits. It’s a great opportunity for North East businesses to take advantage of some of the world’s best mathematical thinking and gain new insights into complex problems that may be frustrating their growth.”

Submissions from North East businesses that are accepted by the panel of experts will be studied intensively over the week, and included in a presentation on the final day of the conference. Each business will also receive a written report a few weeks after the event.

Hans Möller, Innovation Director at the North East LEP, said: “This really is a fantastic chance for businesses to find innovative solutions to issues that may be holding them back.

“Even if the panel can’t solve the problem within the timescale, in every case so far, progress has been made towards finding a solution, which has often resulted in further collaborations between the parties involved.

“I’d urge any North East business that has a problem that could benefit from an appraisal by the team to get in touch with Durham University and apply to take part in the event.”

Businesses interested in submitting a proposal can find out more at or contact Dr Bernard Piette on [email protected]

Paul Woolston to stand down as LEP Chair

Paul Woolston, who has led the North East LEP since its formation nearly five years ago, is to leave his post together with several colleagues in a number of changes to the board.

Paul, a former senior partner at Price Waterhouse Coopers, has led the LEP board as chair since the organisation was created in 2011. He will formally leave his post as chair at the next LEP board meeting on January 28 when his replacement will be announced.

Under his successful leadership, the North East LEP has:

• Delivered the North East Independent Economic Review led by Lord Adonis. This allowed the LEP to formulate the Strategic Economic Plan setting out how to achieve the economic growth needed to deliver 100,000 new and better jobs over the next decade

• Secured £1.5bn in central Government and European funding to finance new economic growth

• Retained the crucial £120m JEREMIE 2 business support fund in the North East, to be invested exclusively into scores of new and growing North East companies

• Successfully bid for two Enterprise Zones covering a total of 20 sites across the region. The first zone has created more than 1,200 new jobs to date, with a lot more to come, and the second zone is anticipated to deliver a further 14,000 jobs.

• Appointed the North East’s first innovation director – acclaimed entrepreneur and business leader Hans Moller – to oversee the investment of £125m to support creativity and dynamism in the region’s growing business base

• Established effective public-private sector advisory boards to stimulate innovation, business growth and skills development

• Created the North East Growth Hub – the comprehensive online resource for business advice, funding information, networking, news and events.

Paul said now was the time to stand down from his post and make way for a new chair.

“The timing is right for a new chair to lead the North East LEP forward at an exciting time in its development and for the region,” said Paul.

“We are entering a new year with a devolution deal for the North East agreed with Government and the combined authority, which will mean a new role for the LEP.”

Three further business board members will also step down as part of the LEP’s plan to stagger its board member leaving and replacement process, keeping experienced members in place to support newcomers.

Businesswoman Gill Southern stepped down from the LEP board just before Christmas, while Michael Bellamy and Arnab Basu will also leave the board as soon as replacement members are recruited.

As part of a rotation of duties, Northumbria University Vice-Chancellor Andrew Wathey and Jon Vincent, Principal and Chief Executive of TyneMet College, have both recently been appointed to the board to replace Anne Isherwood and Peter Fidler.

Paul added: “I would like to thank our business board members who have all really made a difference to what the LEP does, as well as Edward Twiddy and Helen Golightly for their executive leadership.

“Their intellect, innovation and energy means we have been able to turn a great strategy into great decision-making for the North East economy.

“Strong business representation is crucial to the long-term success of the North East LEP and I would urge businesspeople to help shape the region’s future by applying for a place on the board.

“I am genuinely proud of what we have achieved. Initiating the Adonis Review enabled us to produce the Strategic Economic Plan for the region.

“It is absolutely transformational and it is being adopted and embedded in the region to drive future economic success.

“The North East LEP has attracted an enormous amount of funding, £1.5bn, which is being allocated now to implement the Strategic Economic Plan.

“Our challenge now as a region is to eliminate the persistent economic gap between ourselves and other regions of the UK.”

Andrew Hodgson, North East LEP Vice Chair, said: “Under Paul’s leadership, the North East LEP has secured significant funding from Europe and Government to underpin vital economic development.

“He has helped build and establish the LEP in a changing political landscape and worked hard with the most senior levels of Government to ensure the North East’s Strategic Economic Plan is understood and supported.”

Arnab Basu said “It has been a privilege to serve alongside Paul on the LEP board since its beginning. He has been a tireless champion of the north east and I wish him well in the future.

“After five years it is only right that we make way for others to carry the mantle forward. The North East has such a vibrant and thriving business community and I have no doubt the new members will have brighter, fresher ideas and contribute fully to the vital task carried out by the LEP. I will look forward to following their success with great interest.”

Gill said: “I will continue to be a strong advocate of the North East LEP’s activity and work hard to ensure North East business seizes the maximum benefits a new political landscape will present.”

Councillor Simon Henig, Chair of the North East Combined Authority and Leader of Durham County Council, said: “Paul has created a strong foundation for the North East to move into a new phase as we work towards proposed devolution and an elected Mayor.”

Businesspeople interested in applying for a board member post at the North East LEP should contact Jim Allcroft at NRG. Email: [email protected] or Tel: 0191 2604483.

New features unveiled on North East Growth Hub

New business support platform, the North East Growth Hub (, has unveiled one of the most comprehensive business event listings for the region as part of a raft of new features.

Developed by the North East LEP, in partnership with Escher Group, the new events feed adds to the growing list of resources available to the North East business community via the new platform.

Visitors to can now access the very latest business news, details of business-to-business events across the North East and talk direct to the National Business Support helpline via an online webchat.

The new features follow months of discussion with the North East business community about how to shape and develop the North East Growth Hub that when finished, will be the go-to resource for North East companies looking for information and advice on business support and finance.

Colin Bell, Growth Hub Project Manager, said: “It’s very exciting to be able to launch new features of the North East Growth Hub, especially now we’re in close consultation with North East businesses.

“We’re already hard at work on the next phase of development that will introduce a Knowledge Centre; a place for businesses to access information and guidance on everything from funding and finance to business improvement.

“We’re also developing Growth Hub Communities, a new area of for business people to share advice, knowledge and guidance on specific topics.”

Businesses across the North East are being invited to add their events to the North East Growth Hub by visiting

Companies can also sign-up to contribute to the ongoing content and feature development of the North East Growth Hub by visiting

Bob Paton, chief executive of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “The measure of success for the North East Growth Hub will be its engagement with the business community.

“We all know the North East is a great place to do business; we’re collaborative, supportive and actively encourage new talent.

“The North East Growth Hub is somewhere businesses can share knowledge and experience to support economic development in the region. Collectively, we can create more and better jobs for the North East.”

North East LEP invites businesses to test new business support platform

The North East LEP has unveiled an early version of its new online business support platform – the North East Growth Hub,

Designed to be the go-to resource for North East companies looking for information and advice on business support and finance, the Beta-version of the Growth Hub is currently being tested by businesses across the region.

Bryony Gibson Consulting, Readysalted Design and Flo-culture are just some of the North East companies that have signed up to try, test and contribute to the Growth Hub’s content and feature development over the coming months.

There is still time for businesses interested in playing a part in the ongoing development of the North East Growth Hub to join the Beta testing phase.

Bob Paton, chief executive of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “The North East Growth Hub will flourish with the support of the business community, which is why we’re keen to welcome as many organisations as possible to test the Beta.

“Collaboration is key to the success of this project. We want the business community to share their thoughts and ideas about what the Growth Hub should do and how its features should support businesses in the North East.

“When finished, the North East Growth Hub will be a valuable resource that will champion peer-to-peer networking and conversation, as well as help anyone looking to sustain, develop or grow their business.”

The Growth Hub is a key project of the North East LEP’s Strategic Economic Plan. The North East LEP is working with delivery partners Escher Group, Cobweb Information and The Roundhouse, to deliver the project.

A number of core functions are already available on the Beta North East Growth Hub including a comprehensive business-to-business events database and relevant business news showing the breadth of what’s happening in the North East business community.

Information on the range of business support and finance advice available in the North East LEP area, including national, local, public and private support, is currently being built into the platform.

Anyone interested in taking part in the Beta testing phase of the North East Growth Hub can sign up via

For more information, email [email protected]

The North East LEP will be attending a number of business events, exhibitions and conferences in the coming weeks and months to showcase the new platform.