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In conversation with North East LEP chair, Andrew Hodgson

The North East economy is front and centre of Government investment this week aimed at capitalising on our industrial strengths and building our infrastructure.

 

A series of announcements to coincide with the Government’s Cabinet meeting at the Sage Gateshead brings the prospect of new high quality jobs in the energy sector, faster more frequent journeys on the East Coast Main Line and extra funding and responsibilities for Local Enterprise Partnerships to help drive regional economic growth.

It represents a real vote of confidence in the North East and the course of action it is pursuing to create 100,000 more and better jobs by 2024 through investment into sectors of high business growth opportunity.

The Government announcements recognise the pioneering work being carried out in the North East to embed innovation into our economy.

The Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult at Blyth will benefit from part of a £180m funding package over the next five years to bolster its cutting edge research and development activity.

The energy sector is a real North East success story and the North East LEP has just appointed Andrew Clark to lead work in this sector to help maximise its potential.

His knowledge and expertise as sector programme lead will be invaluable in bringing together public and private sector organisations to create a far reaching energy strategy.

A commitment by Government to invest £780m into major upgrades on the East Coast Main Line – to be completed by the early 2020s – is a great first step in giving passengers faster, more frequent journeys, which is in turn great news for new and existing businesses through improved connectivity to markets.

Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, also announced that the North East is among six areas around the country being asked to develop local industrial strategies to create more opportunities and growth.

The national LEP Review was also published on Tuesday which is a welcome move by Government. It provides clarity on the role of LEPs going forward and reinforces the benefits of a strong business voice in leading strategic economic policy and investments. Government are making available an extra £20m to LEPs to help deliver these roles including the new local industrial strategies.

The fact that these strategies will be developed across LEP areas is extremely positive and will support the on-going delivery of the Strategic Economic Plan.

The North East LEP is recognised by ministers as a strong LEP and we are well positioned to meet the roles and opportunities set out in the review.

The Government also confirmed it has laid legislation in Parliament to make the £600m North of Tyne Devolution Deal a reality and the LEP is fully supportive of devolution in the North East in order to bring more local powers and decision making to the region.

However, it is also very important to note that the North East LEP remains committed to working with all seven local authorities to deliver the Strategic Economic Plan with the goal of creating more and better jobs across the region, and to develop the new local industry strategy together for the region.

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Funding available for business Incubator space

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP) is inviting Expressions of Interest from Incubator projects which match the strategic aspirations set out in the Strategic Economic Plan (SEP) and the innovation programme with significant potential to make a demonstrable contribution to the Incubator network within the region.

Projects must demonstrate clear links to the SEP and be able to provide a clear and coherent programme of business incubation support.

We anticipate that the North East LEP will be asked to fund around 50% of the capital costs of the (re)development incubator space (subject to State Aid). The maximum grant available will normally be up to a maximum of £500,000 however in exceptional circumstances, where there is clear demand and a strategically significant project is put forward, a higher level of funding may be awarded.

Prospective applicants, who can be from public, private or voluntary sector, are encouraged in the first instance to read the Project Call Information document which can be found along with other supporting information on our funding page.

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Funding available for early stage Innovation projects

The North East is already home to excellent innovation assets supporting key sectors and facilitating open-innovation across our themes; but we know there are gaps and areas where we could do more. The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP) is therefore inviting bids from early stage innovation projects to come forward for development stage funding that will help to prepare Business Cases that can help deliver the ambition set out in our Strategic Economic Plan.

Projects that are able to demonstrate clear links to the SEP and key Government policy (such as the Industrial Strategy), and are anticipated to be over £5m in scale are encouraged to come forward. Funding available through this call is to support the costs of getting projects ready to produce a HM Treasury Compliant, Five-Point Business Case – the funds are not for projects at implementation/build stage.

We anticipate that the North East LEP will be asked to fund around 50% of the costs of the development of a project (subject to State Aid). While there is not upper or lower limit attached to this, but the eventual ‘full’ projects should be anticipated to be of a significant scale (i.e. of at least £5m capital build cost).

Prospective applicants, who can be from public, private or voluntary sector, are encouraged in the first instance to read the Project Call Information document in addition to with other supporting information which can be found on our funding page.

 

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External Engagement Officer roles with the North East Fund

The North East Fund Ltd (TNEFL) is seeking to appoint two professional and dynamic External Engagement Officers to work with the Marketing Manager in the coordination, management, and promotion of the North East Fund’s engagement activities with stakeholders and regional partners.

The North East Fund Limited (TNEFL) is the holding fund manager for the North East Fund–which will invest £120m in to SMEs (looking to start up or grow) in the North East Local Enterprise Partnership area. £20m of this funding is ring fenced for investment in the Durham Local Authority area. Funding has been provided by the European Investment Bank, the EU and the British Government.

For further information and details of how to apply, click here.

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£120m fund for the North East goes live

£120m North East Fund goes live

A £120m investment fund to drive local growth and job creation will now go live after the agreement was signed on 23 March 2018 by the representatives from the European Investment Bank (EIB) and The North East Fund Limited (TNEFL).

The North East Fund, supported by the European Regional Development Fund, will offer a range of investments including equity, debt and mezzanine funding in the North East LEP area, which covers County Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Sunderland.

It will provide financial support for over 600 businesses, creating around 3,500 jobs over the life of the fund and delivering a legacy of up to £80m for further investment over the next decade.

Experienced Fund Managers have been appointed to manage five separate funds which will cater to the needs of businesses at different stages across different sectors. Details of the Fund Managers are expected to be announced in early April.

Helen Golightly, Executive Director for the North East LEP, which led the project team negotiating for the region, said: “We have always believed that retaining investment funds exclusively for North East companies was the right decision and are grateful to the Treasury, EIB and Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government for their efforts and support to the team.

“This is a fantastic achievement for the North East and all the tireless work behind the scenes has now paid off.”

Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, Robert Jenrick, said: “This is an important step in ensuring that growth and opportunity are spread fairly across the country. The £120m investment will be a big boost to small businesses operating in the North East, driving productivity and bolstering the Northern Powerhouse’s economy.

“By generating thousands of new jobs and upskilling people across the region, the positive impact of this fund will be felt for generations to come.”

Jake Berry MP, Minister for the Northern Powerhouse and Local Growth, said: “With over £120m of investment flowing into the region, strengthening local businesses and creating thousands of new jobs, the North East Fund signals another major economic boost to the Northern Powerhouse.

“It will provide welcome finance for smaller businesses across the North East to reach their full growth potential while bolstering the Northern Powerhouse’s reputation as a world-beating location to start and grow your business.”

Jonathan Taylor, EIB Vice President, said: “The North East Fund will help to unlock entrepreneurial drive and innovation across Northumbria, Tyneside, Wearside and County Durham.  The EIB is pleased to provide £120m to support this unique initiative that will create thousands of new jobs and improve skills across the North East and replicates the proven success of similar investment across Europe.”

Andrew Mitchell, Chief Executive of the North East Fund, said: “This new Fund is a feather in the cap for the North East and a vote of confidence in our economic potential. The North East LEP’s backing has been critical to getting this across the line and we can now focus on investing on the brightest and best businesses in the region.”

-ENDS-

Notes to Editors

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) covers County Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Sunderland.

Our role is to drive economic growth in North East England by supporting businesses and creating more and better jobs for everyone.

Over the next decade, we aim to help the North East create an extra 100,000 jobs. An ambitious target, but one we believe is achievable working with our partners in the public and private sectors.

Our Strategic Economic Plan (SEP) for the North East outlines how we will create more and better jobs including the identification of our areas of strength, referred to as our smart specialisation areas; passenger vehicle manufacturing; subsea and offshore; life sciences and healthcare; and creative, digital, software and technology based services, and our plan to bring investment and funding to the area.

European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)

The project is receiving up to £58,500,000 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding.

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Funding available for business incubator space

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is inviting Expressions of Interest from incubator projects which match the strategic aspirations set out in the Strategic Economic Plan (SEP) and the innovation programme with significant potential to make a demonstrable contribution to the incubator network within the region.

Projects must demonstrate clear links to the SEP and be able to provide a clear and coherent programme of business incubation support.

We anticipate that the North East LEP will be asked to fund around 50% of the capital costs of the (re)development incubator space (subject to State Aid). The maximum grant available through this fund will be £250,000 of capital.

Prospective applicants, who can be from public, private or voluntary sector, are encouraged in the first instance to read the Project Call Information document which can be found along with other supporting information on our funding page.

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In conversation: Estelle Blanks discusses the Innovation Project Development Fund

As Deputy Director of Innovation SuperNetwork, Estelle Blanks works with North East businesses to help them get the funding they need by connecting them with investors through events such as FinanceCamp.

Estelle discusses how businesses in the early stages of an innovation-based project can benefit from up to £200,000 worth of project development funding that’s available in the Innovation Project Development Fund.

Read on to find out if this is for you and what the next steps are.

Why is the Innovation Project Development Fund important?

The North East LEP, as part of the North East Strategic Economic Plan, is committed to creating more and better jobs in the region and help give a long-term productivity boost to the economy. Ensuring there is a strong pipeline of projects that encourage innovation-led growth is essential to deliver this vision. This is what the Innovation Project Development Fund is all about.

The Innovation SuperNetwork is a key pillar of the North East LEP’s innovation strategy, bringing together over 50 stakeholders and reaching out to over 5,000 SMEs in the North East region. We help promote the innovation profile and brand equity of the region and we bring together the regional innovation community across academic networks, catapults, industry and innovation hubs. As such we are keen to see more innovation projects develop and benefit from the new Innovation Project Development Fund.

What types of companies are eligible for the fund?

The Innovation Project Development Fund exists to help companies and projects that can make a real impact on the North East economy raise the capital they need to go and make their plans a reality. Prospective applicants can be from the public, private or voluntary sectors.

This is project development funding for strategic innovation projects (larger than £5m in total) which will enable the project to progress to achieve full funding routes.

If your company creates more jobs in the region, encourages collaboration, or contributes to the productivity and growth of the North East’s economy through innovation, this may be for you.

What types of projects are eligible for the fund?

The North East LEP is inviting bids from early stage innovation projects to come forward for development stage funding. Projects that are anticipated to be over £5m in scale by the end of the project are encouraged to come forward. You should apply for this funding if your project supports the strategic aspirations of the North East LEP’s Strategic Economic Plan and the Industrial Strategy.

The projects must be capital, represent a strategic step change and result in key outputs such as jobs growth, business start-up and growth and the development of new products, processes or services.

Projects will need to demonstrate engagement and partnership between businesses and research institutions.

The Innovation SuperNetwork may be able to introduce you to potential partners and a network of other organisations and businesses who may be seeking collaboration or a partnership or even help with a particular technical aspect of your project.

 

Next steps for Innovation Project Development Fund applicants

Interested in applying for this funding? Here are the next steps for applying to the Innovation Project Development Fund.

Get in touch

The North East LEP welcomes informal discussions and queries from interested parties, so if you have any questions at all or need help assessing the eligibility of your project, just get in touch with James Davies ([email protected] / 0191 561 5430).

Have a look online

There’s plenty of guidance around the funding and the application process on the North East LEP website, including a scoring matrix that will help you easily identify whether you qualify for the funding or not.

I would also recommend reading the Strategic Economic Plan and the Industrial Strategy, as they’ll reveal what the North East LEP is looking for from applications.

Get collaborating

The Innovation SuperNetwork can use its network to help businesses make connections and can provide support which will allow you to access new markets and opportunities which can help you get access to funding such as this.

How to apply

Make sure you read through all the guidance documents and check you are eligible for the Innovation Project Development funding.

If you’re interested in submitting an application, please contact either James Davies (details above) or Ben McLaughlin ([email protected]  0191 561 5430) and ask for the relevant application form and guidance.

The deadline for submissions is midnight on the 30 March 2018.

 

For more information on the Innovation Project Development Fund see here: https://www.nelep.co.uk/news/lep-funding-available-early-stage-innovation-projects/

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Project development grants to champion innovation

Innovative projects could be given help to achieve success with business development funding.

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is inviting bids for up to £200,000 worth of project development funding for strategic innovation projects.

The grants aim to support the preparation of a business plan, feasibility studies and funding applications for large-scale, strategic capital projects that improve the innovation infrastructure of the North East.

The North East LEP is looking for projects that are in the initial stages and need support with the preparation costs to produce a HM Treasury-compliant five-point business case for the Industrial Strategy Fund. The LEP is specifically looking for applications from projects that can demonstrate clear links to the goals set out in its Strategic Economic Plan (SEP), and which are anticipated to be of significant scale with at least a £5m capital build cost.

North East LEP programme manager, James Davies, said: “Our Strategic Economic Plan includes a focus on achieving innovation-led growth, as this is essential to our region’s long-term prosperity.

“This funding is part of our approach to supporting the development of a strong pipeline of capital projects and infrastructure to support the growth of our innovation ecosystem by providing capital project development grants within the North East LEP area.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for businesses. We are inviting applications for up to £200,000 worth of project development funding for strategic innovation projects. This will hopefully help the projects to progress to achieve full funding routes.”

Projects will be required to be seeking external funding from a public, private or other source with a project value of over £5m and to be deliverable within the next five years.

The closing date for applicants is 30 March 2018.

For further information can be found here.

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Deal agreed for new £120m fund for the North East

A £120m fund to support the growth of hundreds of North East businesses hopes to go live early next year after an important milestone was reached today.

The North East Fund – also known as “JEREMIE”  – will offer a range of equity investments and loans to firms to drive local growth and job creation in the North East LEP area.

The final piece of the funding jigsaw was agreed in principle this week by the European Investment Bank’s (EIB) top level Management Committee, after several months of intensive negotiations, following the triggering of Article 50 in March. The £60m loan represents a significant vote of confidence in the North East.

The EIB contribution will form part of a £145m funding package supported by the Department for Communities and Local Government (which has responsibility for the European Regional Development Fund in England) and legacy returns from earlier successful funds operating in the region. The seven North East Local Authorities, working through the NECA Leadership Board, have also been fully engaged in bringing the programme to fruition.

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) led the project team negotiating for the Region. Although the Fund will invest exclusively in the North East LEP area, it will also sit alongside the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund (NPIF), operating in other LEP areas, to drive business growth right across the Northern Powerhouse.

The North East Fund will provide financial support for over 600 businesses, creating around 3,500 jobs over the life of the fund and delivering a legacy fund of up to £80m for further investment in the region over the next decade.

Helen Golightly, executive director for the North East LEP, said: “Our project team has been working continuously with HM Treasury and the EIB behind the scenes to make this fund a reality. Both have been committed to the new Fund from day one and we are grateful to them for their support. This hugely positive decision, though still subject to contract, is a real coup for the north east and, critically, enables us to retain independence and local control  over how these funds are used.

Andrew Mitchell, chief executive of the North East Fund Limited, which will deliver the new programme, added: “This announcement follows months of painstaking work and we are delighted that the European Investment Bank will remain a major long-term investor in the North East. We will now focus on getting money to businesses as soon as we possibly can”

Ends.

Notes to Editors

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP)covers County Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Sunderland.
Our role is to drive economic growth in North East England by supporting businesses and creating more and better jobs for everyone.

Over the next decade, we aim to help the North East create an extra 100,000 jobs. An ambitious target, but one we believe is achievable working with our partners in the public and private sectors.

Our Strategic Economic Plan (SEP) for the North East outlines how we will create more and better jobs including the identification of our areas of strength, referred to as our smart specialisation areas; passenger vehicle manufacturing; subsea and offshore; life sciences and healthcare; and creative, digital, software and technology based services, and our plan to bring investment and funding to the area.

Work areas

The North East LEP works across a number of themes and areas. These are:

  • Funding: The North East LEP competes nationally to bring funding into the region. We are the holder of a multi-million pound pot of money, sourced from various funding streams, which is used to deliver the Strategic Economic Plan priorities.
  • Business Growth: Our Business Growth Programme provides the framework for investment into small and medium-sized companies, opening up access to the finance and support they need to grow and thrive. The LEP is also delivering the ground breaking northeastgrowthhub.co.uk. It simply and efficiently brings together all the available business support information into one digital platform to ensure businesses have all they need to create competitive advantage.
  • Skills: The LEP has created an Employment and Skills Board to give strategic leadership and direction on the skills needed to provide employers with the qualified employees they need. A significant part of our work is to create greater connections between businesses and schools.
  • Enterprise Zones: The North East LEP has helped secure a second Enterprise Zone (EZ) from Government for the region. It is spread across ten sites and companies located there will benefit from business rate discounts, tax savings or enhanced capital allowances.  This was a result of the huge success of the first Enterprise Zone and the significant improvements it brought to the region.
  • Innovation: We are working with organisations across the North East LEP area to secure our place as one of the leading ‘innovation hotspots’ in Europe. We aim to achieve this by building a world class ‘open innovation eco system’ together with partners around the region. Important initiatives include the Super Network (Venture Fest), the Innovation Observatory and the Incubator Support programme.

European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)

The project is receiving up to £58,500,000 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.  The Department for Communities and Local Government (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations.  For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding.