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Business & Economy

Challenge North East launched to help region adapt to post-COVID world

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has launched a new open innovation programme to help solve some of the region’s biggest COVID-related problems.

Through Challenge North East, the LEP is calling on the regional business community to come up with innovative solutions that will enable the North East marketplace to adapt to the post-COVID world.

SMEs will be given up to £5000 grant funding to develop their solutions between January and March 2021, with the possibility of then winning a grant of up to £40,000 to scale up the best solutions.

The first call in the challenge is: ‘Together again, Delivering safe and engaging in-person events’.

It seeks answers to how people might be able to gather safely again indoors and outdoors, while achieving an engaging experience for those watching at home.

Those interested in helping solve this challenge are invited to attend a virtual launch event on December 9 to hear from organisations who are supporting Challenge North East, such as BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Beamish Museum, Sage Gateshead and Newcastle United Foundation.

The second call is ‘Adapting in-home services’.

This will look at the extent to which coronavirus has disrupted the delivery of services in people’s homes and outline the need for new approaches.

It will launch with a virtual event on December 10, which will discuss the scope of the challenge and outline how to apply.

Alan Welby, director of innovation at the North East LEP, said: “Two of the best things about the North East are its entrepreneurial nature and collaborative spirit.

“Through Challenge North East, we want to harness both these things to resolve some of the issues that life with COVID-19 has presented.

“We’re confident that these two open innovation challenges will yield some excellent results and can’t wait to see what our regional businesses come back with.”

Challenge North East is being delivered by the Innovation SuperNetwork, Digital Catapult North East Tees Valley and Sunderland Software City.