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Seeking the North East’s cleverest companies

A guest post by Venturefest North East Director, Simon Green.

When we talk about innovation in this part of the world, we often hark back to the 19th century. We talk about the first railways, the first incandescent lightbulb, steam turbines and the age of coal, steel and shipbuilding. But what’s happening today?

At first glance, it appears that the North East is no longer developing innovative products that can change the world. It’s undoubtedly true that invention and innovation is now a more globally dispersed activity, with labs, governments and businesses in North America and the Far East leading the way in many fields. However, I don’t think it’s true that the North East of England is no longer relevant in innovation terms.

My argument is that there are businesses from small-scale start-ups through to more established, larger companies who are delivering value from ground-breaking ideas. These businesses are often world leaders in their fields but are almost unknown in their own area. This is because they spend their time dealing with global customers, suppliers and operational issues rather than worrying about their regional profile.

As a result, we don’t get to see the bulk of the innovation activity going on in the region. This is a shame, as it means that the profile of the community here is lower than it could be, making it more difficult to attract good skilled people to the region and more difficult to persuade businesses to move here. It also means that we have less obvious success stories to inspire the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs.

I want to change this.

Working with the innovation team at the North East BIC, we plan to use Venturefest North East as a way to promote the successes of innovative North East companies. We want the great businesses buried in the industrial estates and office complexes of the region to shout about what they do, for their own benefit and for the benefit of all of us.

If you’ve got a good innovation story to tell, apply to the Innovation Showcase at this year’s Venturefest. Details are online at www.venturefestnortheast.com.

Venturefest North East is part of the national Venturefest Network and is sponsored by Innovate UK and the North East LEP.