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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The North East COVID-19 Economic Response Group was established by the North East LEP at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic to provide business resilience and ensure a collective response to the economic impact of COVID-19 on the North East economy.

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Crowdfund North East LEP: Worldbeaters

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership has partnered with Crowdfunder to make up to £5,000 in match funding available to help small businesses continue to trade through the coronavirus pandemic.

Crowdfund North East LEP allows small businesses employing no more than 10 full-time equivalent employees to secure match funding to boost their own crowdfunding efforts.

There are 45,800 eligible small businesses across the North East and many are in urgent need of financial support. The funds released by North East LEP will provide urgent relief for those businesses most in need who do not qualify for other government funding schemes. The match funding is being sourced from the North East Investment Fund and will total up to £1 million.

Below is a case study of Worldbeaters – producers of the acclaimed interactive street theatre show, Spark!, – which has benefited from Crowdfund North East LEP.

To find out more about Crowdfund North East LEP, raise funds for your business, or donate to a small business in need, please click here.

Please introduce yourself, your company, and tell us why you fundraised through Crowdfunder.

I’m Chris Maines-Beasley, a Director of Worldbeaters based in North Shields. We are producers of Spark! – an interactive street theatre show that combines drumming, movement, clowning, dazzling costumes and lots of light! We created the show in 2012 here in the North East, and it has toured the world ever since!

Arts and events have been hit as hard as any other other sector by COVID-19 and we know we have to adapt our show for the new realities ahead. Our biggest asset is our bank of self-employed performers. We depend on them as much as they depend on us, so it was crucial that we found a way to support them during this difficult time. Crowdfunding was a perfect fit as it connected us to our many fans around the world for them to directly support a show they love.

How easy was it to set up your crowdfunding campaign and apply for the North East LEP’s match funding?

It was pretty straightforward. There was minimal form filling: just all the info that any business will already have to hand.

Then came the fun part of creating our ‘message’.  We already had a lot of nice visual material that we could use and we had a real clarity of purpose in that 100% of the money raised is going directly to support our performers to rehearse and rework the show. That clear message was important. Crowdfunder provide lots of useful advice and resources on their site to help with this, and good supportive advice as the process went along.

We did not offer any tangible rewards, so we had to work hard to make the connection between the performers and potential supporters. That was really satisfying. The performers made a nice video speaking directly to supporters, and the feedback we had from those who donated was that that human connection to the ‘story’ of the performers was crucial.

What difference will the match funding from the North East LEP make?

It was absolutely essential for us and we would not have started the Crowdfunder without knowing it was available. To raise our £10,000 target on our own felt a little daunting, but knowing that the North East LEP would match half of that gave us the confidence to start.

We also know the match-funding was very important to our supporters and we made a lot of that fact that their £50 donation would actually be worth £100 to us after the North East LEP matched it. It made people feel like they were giving double and was a real win for us in getting donations.

All of the money raised is going to pay our performers for rehearsals and to adapt the show to be more COVID-ready. It’s crucial to ensure that we still have a show to offer when events resume again in the future.

Would you encourage other businesses to start their own crowdfunding campaign using Crowdfund North East LEP?

Absolutely. Go for it! It’s such a flexible type of fundraising that you really can tailor your approach to fit almost any product or need. As well as the money raised, the act of crowdfunding helped us have a focus during these difficult times and to keep our team motivated for the future.

Upon successful completion of the Crowdfunder, the money was in our account within a few days. We were able to begin our COVID-safe rehearsals and start paying our performers immediately. It feels great to be back working together again.

I really recommend that North East businesses have a go at crowdfunding in this way. It was actually a lot of fun and has helped our business and our team to adapt and be in the best shape to hit-the-ground-running again when things pick up again. Hopefully we’ll see you out on the road soon!

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Crowdfund North East LEP: Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue Team

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership has partnered with Crowdfunder to make up to £5,000 in match funding available to help small businesses continue to trade through the coronavirus pandemic.

Crowdfund North East LEP allows small businesses employing no more than 10 full-time equivalent employees to secure match funding to boost their own crowdfunding efforts.

There are 45,800 eligible small businesses across the North East and many are in urgent need of financial support. The funds released by North East LEP will provide urgent relief for those businesses most in need who do not qualify for other government funding schemes. The match funding is being sourced from the North East Investment Fund and will total up to £1 million.

Below is a case study of Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue Team – a voluntary emergency service that provides a search and rescue service to the area covered by Northumbria Police – that has benefited from Crowdfund North East LEP.

To find out more about Crowdfund North East LEP, raise funds for your business, or donate to a small business in need, please click here.

Please introduce yourself, your company, and tell us why you fundraised through Crowdfunder.

My name is Ninette Edwards, Fundraising Officer of the Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue Team.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and we were forced into lockdown, our team’s fundraising events were all cancelled, which would have brought in £15,000 to the team to cover our core operating costs. The crowdfunding campaign was the perfect opportunity to tell everyone how the pandemic had hit the team and to raise vital funds.

How easy was it to set up your crowdfunding campaign and apply for the North East LEP’s match funding?

It was very straightforward to set up the crowdfunding campaign. Getting the right message out to potential supporters took some thought though, and I had never attempted a video message, which was a learning experience!

Crowdfunder told us that we were eligible for match funding through the North East LEP, and it was very easy to complete the extra form to apply for this. Having the targets of 25% and 75% to reach and receive the match funding kept the momentum of the campaign going, and gave us a huge boost.

What difference will the match funding from the North East LEP make?

With such a shortfall in our funding this year, the match funding will allow the Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue Team to stay on top of the core operating costs that allow the team to remain on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, without cutting costs.

Would you encourage other businesses to start their own crowdfunding campaign using Crowdfund North East LEP?

Absolutely. The publicity for the team through the campaign really got the message across about the service we provide and how much financial support we need. We are a volunteer organisation and have to raise every penny ourselves to provide our life-saving service.

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Universities key to North East’s economic recovery

Universities from across the region have joined the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, North East and North of Tyne Combined Authorities, the CBI on behalf of business organisations, and the North East Joint Transport Committee, in pledging their support for a new economic recovery plan that will help stabilise, adapt and rebuild the North East 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 LEP at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic to provide business resilience and ensure a collective response to the economic impact of COVID-19 on the North East economy.

The Group has recently published its economic response summary report.

The region’s academic institutions have continued to operate during lockdown, and the work carried out by North East universities is supporting the recovery of the UK economy as a whole and helping businesses in the region adapt to a new way of working.

Professor Jane Robinson, who is Dean of Engagement and Place at Newcastle University, represents the North East LEP region’s four universities (Newcastle/Sunderland/Northumbria/Durham) within the North East COVID-19 Economic Response Group.

She said: “The universities will play a central role in supporting the region to recover from the post Covid-19 economic downturn. Universities contribute to the regional economy in a myriad of ways – as employers and educators and by linking our region to the rest of the UK and internationally. Critically at this time, as the source of research and expertise that will help our region not only survive, but thrive, as we enter the economic and social recovery phase of COVID-19. This collaborative approach signals our collective commitment to working in partnership with businesses and our communities to bring this knowledge to bear on the region’s recovery.”

The universities will help support the region’s economic recovery by:

  • Supporting new and existing businesses to innovate and grow, shaping and    supporting a more sustainable and inclusive economy
  • Identifying and meeting future skill needs – re-skilling and up-skilling the workforce
  • Connecting world-leading research and analytic capability to support scenario planning, problem solving and policy making
  • As major employers and ‘anchor institutions’ employing local people, supporting local supply chains, attracting and retaining talent and contributing to the vibrancy, culture and wider well-being of the region.

Helen Golightly, Chief Executive of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, (North East LEP), said: “Universities have a vital role to play in helping our region return to pre-coronavirus levels.

“They provide a highly skilled recruitment pipeline which will be essential for innovation businesses in our region. Tech, digital and life sciences are all areas of strategic importance for the North East so delivering a workforce with the skills that industry needs is key for the sectors’ success and the recovery of our economy.

“Knowledge exchange between academia and our region’s business community will help companies innovate and grow. High growth businesses are an essential part of a healthy economy; the expertise and knowledge at our universities can help us create more.

“As well as working extremely hard to deliver a world-class student experience during the coronavirus crisis, universities have a central role to play in our region’s economic recovery too.”

Universities are contributing to the new economic recovery plan in a number of different ways. Durham and Newcastle Universities are part of the N8 Research Partnership, which consists of the eight most research-intensive Universities in the North of England.

The N8 is currently involved in developing opportunities to unlock new business opportunities in the green economy, through the Net Zero North project, contributing to lasting prosperity for the North of England and beyond.  This is being achieved by accelerating the growth of the low carbon goods and services sector in the Northern Powerhouse through university-business-public sector collaboration.

Through the Northern Accelerator, Sunderland, Northumbria, Newcastle and Durham Universities are continuing to accelerate the commercialisation of the North East’s world-class research to help boost the region’s economy.

Northumbria has joined forces with regional fund management firm NEL Fund Managers to launch a major new programme to help North East businesses grow or expand into the health, wellness and social care delivery sectors. The new Purposeful Health Growth Accelerator, will offer practical support, advice and growth capital investment worth more than £1m in total to up to 200 North East firms.

Teesside University’s £22.3 million National Horizons Centre (NHC), which officially opened in October 2019, is a national centre of excellence for bioscience that brings together research, teaching and enterprise. The NHC was established to directly address the potential of the bioeconomy.

Within days of the World Health Organisation declaring a global pandemic, the NHC supplied tens of thousands of pounds of specialist kit and equipment to North Tees and Hartlepool Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to help them scale-up testing for Covid-19.

Other key initiatives led by the region’s universities to support the recovery of the North East’s economy include student and graduate internships in business and targeted enterprise programmes encouraging student startups.

For more information about the North East COVID-19 Response Group and the economic recovery plan visit www.northeastlep.co.uk.

Click here to see examples from Durham University, Newcastle University, Northumbria University, University of Sunderland and Teesside University showing how they are working with the region to support its economic recovery.

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Regional collaboration sees staged economic recovery plan agreed

A staged economic recovery plan prepared by the North East COVID-19 Economic Response Group has secured region-wide support as leaders look to introduce measures that build confidence, stabilise the economy and help our businesses, sectors and places adapt to the ‘new normal’.

The Group, which comprises the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), North East and North of Tyne Combined Authorities, the CBI on behalf of business, North East Joint Transport Committee and regional universities, has joined forces to plot the economic recovery of the region.

Within the plan are key messages for Government about the support required by the region.

The phased approach retains the region’s ambition to deliver more and better jobs and positions support for its places at its core, whilst being realistic about the long-term impact that COVID-19 will have on the North East. As the plan is implemented, it will aim to build a greener, more productive and more inclusive economy, through investment in energy and environmental industries, life sciences and digital technologies and by supporting people to find jobs and develop their skills.

It is based on evidence drawn together through consultation with sectors and organisations from across the region, a process which will continue over time.

The plan considers the actions needed during the next six months as lockdown restrictions are released, the following period of up to eighteen months as the region adapts to living with COVID-19, and then longer-term recovery priorities.

It articulates how the Group will develop responses to specific challenges facing businesses, education, the workforce and communities. It also identifies how innovative approaches can positively impact the way services are delivered, people work and learn, and ensure support is provided for North East residents.

The recovery plan factors in the importance of new ways of working as businesses adapt to social distancing and personal protection and embed new working methods such as digitalisation which has been a key feature of the immediate response.

It recognises that supporting sectors will be important but that also a focus on towns and cities and transport will be critical to a positive economic response.

Andrew Hodgson, Chair of the North East LEP, said: “Mitigating and recovering from COVID-19 has become the greatest challenge of our time and the response from regional leaders has been nothing less than superb.

“The collaborative approach across the North East LEP, our Combined Authorities and the world of education and business has enabled us to quickly and thoroughly devise a framework for economic recovery which incorporates a set of practical issues and actions that are evolving in real time.

“The framework is underpinned by intelligence which is drawn together from sector insights and quantitative data and addresses the fact the recovery will be tentative and phased and that there will be shifting patterns of investment and economic activity.

“While people will be understandably anxious right now, we want them to know that the right steps are being taken at the right time to get the North East back on track and that regional leaders are determined to work together to plot a course through these challenges and to do the right things for businesses, residents and our communities. We want the North East to lead, not lag, the national recovery and everyone involved is 100% committed to making this happen.”

Sarah Glendinning, Regional Director for the CBI, said: “The recovery plan provides a roadmap for the future and identifies the building blocks needed to create a region that thrives.

“This plan restates our commitment to a strong, collaborative approach that allows us to deliver a unified voice to Government and secure greater devolved funding and powers.

“We are very aware that the impacts on specific sectors require a long-term response and we are fully focused on ensuring the plan delivers now and in the years ahead.”

Jane Robinson, who is Dean of Engagement and Place at Newcastle University, represents the region’s four universities within the North East COVID-19 Economic Response Group. She said: “Universities contribute to the regional economy in a myriad of ways – as employers and educators and as links to the world – and at this time as the source of research and expertise to solve the challenges that COVID-19 is creating. We welcome this collaborative approach and are committed to strengthening our local partnerships to work with businesses and communities to bring this knowledge to bear on the region’s recovery.”

North of Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll said: “We’ve been hit hard by this crisis.  Our key workers have done us proud, and our communities have stepped up.  We need to act now to build a future that’s prosperous.

“We need jobs.  Good jobs with good wages.

“That means getting investment in offshore wind, a low-carbon transport system and affordable housing.  It means giving our youngsters the training they need.

“It means looking after the key-workers who’ve seen us through this crisis.  It means revitalising our high streets, supporting our established businesses, and nurturing new ones.  We’ve got everyone pulling together on this – businesses, councils, transport, health and education.

“That’s exactly the team we need to make our region prosper.”

Councillor Iain Malcolm, Chair of the North East Combined Authority, said: “The North East COVID-19 Economic Response Group is very aware that the impact of Coronavirus is different across cities, high streets, market towns and rural communities. As such, this recovery plan is designed to focus on our places and ensure that nowhere is left behind.

“This includes providing strong leadership right across our geographical patch, ensuring access to grants and other funding, mobilising health and social care, and engaging properly with all residents and business owners. We want people to be confident that their health, happiness and livelihoods are at the very centre of all this work.”

Councillor Martin Gannon, Chair of the North East Joint Transport Committee Joint Transport Committee, said: “Our plan is to move to a green, healthy, dynamic and thriving North East and this collaborative approach will enable us to fast track the plans in place.

“We are united in our goal to deliver carbon-neutral transport, alongside appealing travel choices and a safe network, which everyone can benefit from.”

The economic response summary report can be found here.

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Crowdfund North East LEP: Shoe Tree Cafe

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership has partnered with Crowdfunder to make up to £5,000 in match funding available to help small businesses continue to trade through the coronavirus pandemic.

Crowdfund North East LEP allows small businesses employing no more than 10 full-time equivalent employees to secure match funding to boost their own crowdfunding efforts.

There are 45,800 eligible small businesses across the North East and many are in urgent need of financial support. The funds released by North East LEP will provide urgent relief for those businesses most in need who do not qualify for other government funding schemes. The match funding is being sourced from the North East Investment Fund and will total up to £1 million.

Below is a case study of Shoe Tree Cafe – a vegan and vegetarian cafe in Heaton, Newcastle – that has benefited from Crowdfund North East LEP.

To find out more about Crowdfund North East LEP, raise funds for your business, or donate to a small business in need, please click here.

Please introduce yourself, your company, and tell us why you fundraised through Crowdfunder.

My name is Joe and I’m one of the owners of Shoe Tree Cafe, a veggie and vegan cafe based in Heaton, Newcastle upon Tyne.

Due to the uncertainty of this time we decided to raise money to help us diversify and alter our business model to one that can operate safely in the current climate, as well as support our staff and the wider community.

How easy was it to set up your crowdfunding campaign and apply for the North East LEP’s match funding?

Everything was really easy to setup through Crowdfunder. Choosing rewards was fun and it’s nice to know that folks are getting something back for their investment in your business, rather than just being encouraged to give you money for nothing.

Crowdfunder informed us there was potential match funding available and I was able to apply the same day through a simple form. It only took four or five days to be informed we’d got it, and then it was just a case of getting our supporters on board to hit the 25% and 75% targets to get the full funding.

What difference will the match funding from the North East LEP make

Without the match funding it would have taken a lot longer for us to get the cafe up and running again. We’ve now got a really nice little pot of money to get us going and diversify our business model.

Would you encourage other businesses to start their own crowdfunding campaign using Crowdfund North East LEP?

Absolutely! What have you got to lose?

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Supporting innovative North East firms to help lead the region’s economic recovery

The North East LEP is hosting a special event to help the North East’s innovation and technology sector understand and ask questions about the newly announced Future Fund.

Innovation, digital and technology-led businesses will power the engine that drives growth in the UK economy, and help lead the country’s, and our region’s, financial recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

The presence and potential of technology startups is an indicator of a healthy, ambitious and resilient economy. These innovative, high potential firms feed cycles – they are a route to retaining and attracting talent in a place; they create the scale-ups of tomorrow; they can establish and support ecosystems for entrepreneurs to invest back into, which in turn attracts more entrepreneurs to a region. They build the technological innovations that will create jobs; develop supply chains; become our next exports.

This is why the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and HM Treasury has announced a financial support package – Future Fund – to protect UK businesses driving innovation and development from the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

Future Fund

Launching today (Wednesday 20 May), Future Fund will give high-growth companies across the UK the investment they need to continue during this crisis. Providing loans between £125,000 and £5m from the government, private investors are required to at least match the government commitment. Future Fund is delivered through the British Business Bank.

Supporting North East businesses to access funding

To help our region’s dynamic businesses bid for funding, the North East LEP is hosting a webinar to explore the specifics of the Future Fund, including eligibility criteria and the application process. This is an opportunity to hear directly from regional investors and operators, including Northstar Ventures and SeedLegals. Tech founder and entrepreneur, Paul Smith, will chair the event.

The webinar will take place at 2pm on Thursday 28 May. For further information and to register your place, please visit the eventbrite page.

We welcome registrations from technology start-ups, investors, founders and innovation-led firms across all sectors.

Looking to the future of the sector

As well as discussing the immediate funding opportunity to support businesses through the coronavirus pandemic, we will also be using this event to take a longer-term view of the digital/tech/innovation sector in the North East and explore barriers to its growth.

The North East digital strategy recognises the huge importance of our tech community, which is driven, passionate and entrepreneurial. We want to support more of this by enabling greater cross-sectoral collaboration and raising the profile of our tech sector with investors and collaborators – from across the region and beyond.

We want to strengthen the relationship between creativity and innovation to maximise the translation of ideas into new products, solutions and businesses. And we want to support the wider ecosystem so that we see more innovative start-ups launching, flourishing and staying in the North East.

Join us on 28 May at 2pm to learn more about government’s support for innovative businesses and discuss how we, as a sector, can build the right environment for high growth businesses to thrive in the North East.

By Laura Partridge, Digital Programme Lead at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership.

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Crowdfund North East LEP: Heatherslaw Light Railway Company

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership has partnered with Crowdfunder to make up to £5,000 in match funding available to help small businesses continue to trade through the coronavirus pandemic.

Crowdfund North East LEP allows small businesses employing no more than 10 full-time equivalent employees to secure match funding to boost their own crowdfunding efforts.

There are 45,800 eligible small businesses across the North East and many are in urgent need of financial support. The funds released by North East LEP will provide urgent relief for those businesses most in need who do not qualify for other government funding schemes. The match funding is being sourced from the North East Investment Fund and will total up to £1 million.

Below is a case study of Heatherslaw Light Railway Company – a narrow gauge steam railway tourist attraction based in North Northumberland – who have benefited from Crowdfund North East LEP.

To find out more about Crowdfund North East LEP, raise funds for your business, or donate to a small business in need, please click here.

Please introduce yourself, your company, and tell us why you’re fundraising through Crowdfunder.

“I’m Darrell Smith and I’m the finance director of Heatherslaw Light Railway Company, a narrow gauge steam railway tourist attraction based just over the River Till from the Heatherslaw Cornmill in North Northumberland.

“We’re a family business; my father started the company 30 years ago. We employ five full-time members of staff and some seasonal workers too.

“As a seasonal business, we rely on the busy spring/summer period to carry us through the winter. Having been told we can’t open, we’re left with a hole in our revenue. Despite receiving grant funding from the Local Authority under the business rate relief scheme, as well as participating in the Government backed COVID-19 guaranteed loan scheme, our business would have struggled to survive without using Crowdfunder.”

How easy was it to set up your crowdfunding campaign and apply for the North East LEP’s match funding?

“It was great, refreshingly clear and easy. It’s a really good platform and very easy to get your message across.”

What difference will the match funding from the North East LEP make

“It gives us two-three months of covering costs until we can open again. It’ll be the difference between exceeding the overdraft limit, and not. It will also help us manage the lower visitor numbers we’re expecting due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Over the winter we have a lot of statutory maintenance works to carry out in preparation of opening in the spring/summer, where we make our revenue.

“As a key attraction for the local area, we attract over 30,000 visitors to the estate, which helps to supports jobs in other local businesses.

“The response to the Crowdfunder has been amazing. Someone donated £400 anonymously and another person donated £500 to have his daughter’s name put on a carriage.”

Would you encourage other businesses to start their own crowdfunding campaign using Crowdfund North East LEP?

“It depends on the businesses, but as long as you meet the criteria and have goodwill amongst your customers then yes, why wouldn’t you? If you’re providing something people value, it’s the ideal platform. It’s very easy to set up.”

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Up to £5,000 available in match funding for SMEs via Crowdfund North East LEP

North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) makes up to £5,000 in match funding available to any small businesses continuing to trade through Crowdfunder’s Pay it Forward.

  • The COVID19 crisis has forced thousands of small businesses to close their premises.
  • Crowdfunder UK has launched Pay it Forward to enable small businesses to keep trading by pre-selling goods and services.
  • The North East LEP will match pound for pound the money raised by eligible North East small businesses through Pay it Forward, awarding up to £5,000.
  • Crowdfunder has scrapped all platform fees and is covering transaction charges to make the scheme 100% free.

Match funding is to be distributed by the North East LEP to small businesses through Crowdfunder’s small business support scheme Pay it Forward. Small businesses, employing no more than 10 full-time equivalent employees, will be able to secure up to £5,000 in match funding to boost their own crowdfunding efforts.

Pay it Forward provides the infrastructure and coaching for small businesses to

1) pre-sell goods and services,

2) adapt and ‘pivot’ their business into new ways of working and

3) stay connected to their customer base.

There are 45,800 small businesses employing 10 or fewer full-time equivalent employees across the North East, many are in urgent need of financial support. The funds released by North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) will provide urgent relief for those small businesses most in need and who do not qualify for other Government schemes. The match funding is being sourced from the North East Investment Fund and will total up to £1 million.

Helen Golightly, Chief Executive at the North East LEP said: “Despite government’s best efforts, there are still some businesses in our region that are not eligible for government-backed grants or loans, leaving them vulnerable and at increased risk of closure.

“Many are turning to crowdfunding and the goodwill of customers and members of the public to generate some much-needed funds.

“Because of this, we’ve partnered with Crowdfunder to match fund appeals run by North East small businesses to ensure they receive the vital support they need at this time.

“Small businesses contribute significantly to our local economy and will play a key role in our economic recovery too.”

Eligible businesses must generate a minimum 25% of their target from crowdfunding before they can apply for match funding from the North East LEP. If their application is successful, half the grant will be pledged right away, and the other half when they reach their 75% of their fundraising target. Businesses that don’t reach their full crowdfunding target will still receive match funding, up to a total of £5k.

Rob Love, CEO, Crowdfunder said: If you’re a small business whose livelihood has been turned upside down as a result of COVID-19, we are here to help. The power of Pay it Forward is to keep small businesses trading, help them think about their recovery, and to put them in a position to bounce back quickly.

“The continued trading through Pay it Forward, by pre-selling goods and services, ensures businesses can stay connected with their customers and enables entrepreneurs to adapt their offering.

“We are proud to partner with North East LEP to keep small businesses trading, retaining jobs and innovating for a brighter future”

Helen Golightly continued: “There’s been a real momentum around supporting local businesses with people buying gift vouchers and ordering take outs or deliveries to help small businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We want to encourage more people in the North East to support local traders, which is why we’ve promised to match every pound donated through an eligible Crowdfunder appeal, up to a maximum of £5,000.

“With the public’s support, that’s more than 200 small businesses in the North East that will benefit.”

How it works:

  1. Small businesses can set-up a Pay it Forward campaign here: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/funds/crowdfund-north-east-lep
  2. Once set-up the small business can pre-sell their goods or services and adapt their offer to engage existing customers and potentially reach new customers as well.
  3. The small business sets a financial target to meet and throughout the process, coaching is provided by Crowdfunder to support the small business to meet their target.
  4. Once the financial target is met, match funding is released from the Crowdfund North East LEP monies.
  5. The total sum of the money is then released to the small business

The North East LEP is leading the North East COVID-19 Economic Response Group, a partnership that includes the CBI, North of Tyne and North East Combined Authorities. The group was launched, with the support of industry, to provide maximum support for businesses in the immediate term and plan for long-term economic recovery following the COVID-19 outbreak.

For more information about the North East LEP and the North East COVID-19 Economic Response Group, visit www.northeastlep.co.uk.

 

For more information about Crowdfund North East LEP, visit https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/funds/crowdfund-north-east-lep

 

-ENDS-

For more information, images or interview requests, please contact [email protected] or call 07948 563 612.

Notes to editors

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is a public, private, and education sector partnership that covers Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside and Sunderland local authority areas.

Crowdfund North East LEP may pledge up to 50% of a project target, up to a £5,000 maximum pledge.

A pledge of grant support from the North East LEP will be triggered if:

  • The business has reached 25% of its funding target from crowdfunding
  • At least 10 unique backers have pledged towards your target
  • An application for North East LEP pledge is approved
  • Once 25% of your target is reached, a match funding pledge of 25% (max £2,500) will be made. When the appeal reaches 75%, the second pledge of an additional 25% (max £2,500) will be made.

To access the match funding businesses must:

  • Be a small business with no more than 10 full-time equivalent employees
  • Be a) an existing registered business, charity or b) sole trader operating for at least 12 months
  • Be able to demonstrate the business has been adversely affected by COVID-19
  • Be seeking to raise a minimum of £2,000 (i.e. seeking a minimum match fund contribution of £1,000)
  • Those businesses not eligible for the Small Business Grants Fund or Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund will be given priority.

Full eligibility criteria can be found at https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/funds/crowdfund-north-east-lep

About Crowdfunder’s small business support scheme, Pay it Forward,

Small businesses fighting for survival can set-up a Pay it Forward campaign to pre-sell their services and diversify trading now to ensure continuous cash flow throughout the crisis. Crowdfunder is covering all platform and transaction fees making it 100% free to small businesses. Over the course of four weeks, £4 million has been raised by small businesses across the UK through Pay it Forward.