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East Durham Business feature: Gillian Middleton from the North East BIC

Aug 22, 2022 | Business

Clock ticking on innovation funding

Time is running out to take advantage of a hugely popular scheme that’s helped dozens of businesses unlock grant funding towards projects totalling £1.16million.

Gillian Middleton, Innovation & Enterprise Manager at the North East BIC, tells us everything you need to know to make sure you don’t miss out on the Innovation Programme.

EDB: Hi Gillian, give us an overview of what the Innovation Programme is and how it can help East Durham businesses.

GM: It’s a package of support designed to help you develop bright ideas that will make your business more innovative and competitive. If you’re thinking about developing a new product, service or process to help your business adapt or grow then you could receive free expert advice and grant funding from the European Regional Development Fund to make it happen.

The programme provides a team of experts to structure your innovation project, provide guidance and advice, links to industry experts and suppliers, and up to 40 percent funding for projects worth between £5,000 and £50,000.

EDB: How does it work?

GM: You’ll be assigned an innovation adviser from the BIC to help guide you every step of the way to make a success of your project. Our team has many years of experience of advising small businesses on using new ideas and technology to improve a business and boost growth.

EDB: What exactly do you consider as business innovation?

GM: For us, innovation is the process of using new ideas and technology to improve a business. It doesn’t have to be a ground-breaking idea, just something new to the business to help it to survive and adjust to new market conditions. The ultimate goal of innovation is to reinvigorate a business, creating new value and boosting growth and productivity.

EDB: Who is eligible for the support?

GM: The programme is open to investment-ready businesses of all sectors throughout the North East. Businesses must have been trading for at least 12 months and be operating business-to-business (B2B), that is, selling products or services to other businesses. Project costs that can be covered are the purchase of external expertise and prototyping for a project that is commercially viable and will make a positive impact.

EDB: What’s the rush?

GM: The scheme has been running since 2011 and is coming to an end in March 2023, meaning the deadline for applications is mid-December 2022. So, if you’re sitting on an idea for a project that can accelerate your business, don’t hold back. Get in touch with us and let’s get the ball rolling.

We are keen to make sure this funding is used to maximum effect to support businesses in a post-pandemic world. The crisis has stimulated a wave of innovation from businesses who are adapting to survive or considering emerging trends and exploring new opportunities. The Innovation Programme is perfectly placed to help you to take these ideas forward.

EDB: How do businesses get started?

GM: Give my team a call on 0191 516 6039.