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Business & Economy

Innovative North East SMEs can access grants through the GX Project

SMEs looking to drive innovation in the North East will be able to access a new set of grants as part of the GX Project, a legacy of the Great Exhibition of the North.

Initially a two-year programme to support innovation and collaboration among North East SMEs, the GX Project awarded 26 grants in 2019 and has been extended for a third year running into 2020.

The scheme is funded by European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and delivered by NewcastleGateshead Initiative (NGI), working in partnership with the Innovation SuperNetwork and Newcastle City Council.

The new wave of grants up to the value of £7500 will be available to support SMEs looking to develop new products or services. There will also be challenges and events that bring together corporations, SMEs, universities and innovators in the cultural sector.

The GX Project is facilitating SMEs and scale-ups to be able to unlock their innovation capacity and ability to develop new products.

Carol Bell, director of major events and festivals at NGI, said: “The GX Project has already awarded a total of 26 grants across a range of sectors including creative, digital, software and tech, and we’ve seen this funding help create some amazingly innovative products and services.

“It’s great news that we are able to provide more of these grants in 2020 and we are looking forward to reviewing the applications that come in.”

One business who has benefitted from the scheme is Barrier Ex, which comprises four divisions – hazardous area, LED, electrical engineering and glass reinforced plastic (GRP).

Steven Lee, managing director of Barrier Ex, said: “We worked with the GX Project team to secure funding for testing on our GRP Flange Box innovation.

“The funding was critical in helping us get our prototype ready for commercialisation. The GX Project team took the time to understand our business and were a pleasure to work with.”

To be eligible for the grants, businesses must be a registered company, employ no more than 250 staff and have an annual turnover of less than £44 million.