Ground-breaking solutions to the COVID-19 crisis will become reality thanks to the Challenge North East open innovation programme.
Challenge North East called on North East SMEs to put forward ideas that could help society recover from the impact of COVID-19.
Launched last year by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), the challenge attracted entries from over 60 SMEs.
16 SMEs were selected to receive support, introductions to potential clients and up to £5,000 to prototype their ideas. From these, seven businesses have now been chosen to receive the full funding needed to bring their products to market.
The successful SMEs are:
- BelleVie – a third party marketplace and signposting platform providing details of services and support for older and vulnerable individuals – received £15,000.
- DABS Official Ltd – anti-microbial and anti-viral gloves to reduce the spread of Covid – received £12,000.
- NitroPep Ltd – an anti-microbial treatment for use on surfaces and within air filtration systems to kill Covid – received £25,000.
- Southpaw Dance Company – an immersive digital application to allow theatre venues and companies to remotely connect with audiences – received £15,370.
- Trench Networks – on-demand local area communications using 4G internet to establish voice call, camera and device monitoring capability for homes without WiFi – received £25,000.
- TRL9 – an air filtration system to kill SARS/Covid – received £23,500.
- Waterstons Ltd – a platform to provide a shared view of home visits across service providers to better respond to the needs of vulnerable and isolated individuals – received £5,000.
Challenge North East saw the LEP offer funding and development support to SMEs whose ideas could help the North East adapt to the challenges of COVID-19 in two specific areas – delivering safe and engaging in-person events; and safely adapting in-home services.
Challenge North East is delivered by the Innovation SuperNetwork, Digital Catapult North East Tees Valley and Sunderland Software City.
Sarah Cox, Programme Director of Challenge North East, said: “The response to Challenge North East’s call for innovative solutions to help in the fight against COVID-19 has been absolutely tremendous.
“From the many SMEs that came forward with their fantastic ideas, to the local organisations and challenge supporters that were so open with the problems they were facing, we have seen a real spirit of hard work and collaboration in our region.
“We are delighted to now announce the seven businesses that have received the final funding. The standard of entries was extremely high but ultimately we felt these solutions will have the most impact across our communities as we begin to recover from COVID-19.”
Alan Welby, Director of Innovation at the North East LEP, said: “When we launched Challenge North East, it was our ambition to champion the North East as a hotspot for open innovation and problem solving and to make our businesses and communities more resilient. The level of innovation we saw in the solutions generated in response to this was outstanding.
“We are delighted to award this funding to the seven businesses in the final round. This challenge has brought to the forefront solutions that will make a significant contribution to our efforts to enable the North East to recover and build back stronger from the coronavirus pandemic.”
Many local organisations lent their support to Challenge North East, including The Baltic, Beamish Museum, The Sage Gateshead and Sodexo along with Northern Gas Networks, ESH Group, Karbon Homes, Beyond Housing.
Challenge North East was funded through the government’s Local Growth Fund. The Local Growth Fund is supporting capital investments to promote innovation, economic and skills infrastructure and sustainable transport as part of the North East Growth Deal.