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Business & Economy

New innovation programme to help boost your business

Hospitality, tourism and food and drink businesses are being encouraged to become members of an innovation programme aimed at boosting the sector.

The Hospitality, Innovation Tourism Supply (HITS) programme has been launched to help bring more innovative ideas and solutions into the visitor offer.

Funded by North of Tyne Combined Authority, the programme is being led by NewcastleGateshead Initiative (NGI) in partnership with Food and Drink North East (FADNE) and NBSL, which support companies in the region to access grants and mentoring.

Businesses are now being invited to become members of the programme to ensure they get exclusive access to workshops, networking events, and industry experts and insights as well as the most up-to-date information on grants available.

The programme’s aims are to: improve skills and increase collaboration between tourism companies, including those in the supply chain; raise awareness of local products and independent businesses to a wider audience, and help increase the adoption of digital and/or green technologies.

A blend of expert training, technology solutions, and funding, the HITS programme brings together organisations and expertise from across the region and beyond to seed and support ideas on ​​how to improve the North of Tyne tourism, food, drink, and hospitality sector.

The first members-only event will take place on Tuesday 8 November at The Core, Newcastle, and will focus on the challenges faced by the industries and how to use innovation to overcome them. It will also update businesses on match-funding available.

Elected Metro Mayor for the North of Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll will be attending the event and welcoming companies to the programme. He said:

“We often talk about the ‘business community’. But running a business can sometimes feel isolating. We know that good things happen when we work together and share ideas. So, we’ve stuck in a bit of cash to help our local hospitality and tourism sectors do exactly that. In the aftermath of the pandemic, and in the midst of the cost of living crisis, our industries will be stronger if we help each other out.”

Sarah Green, Chief Executive, NGI said:

“The hospitality, tourism and food and drink industry continue to face extreme challenges – with the impact of the pandemic still being felt and now a cost of living crisis changing consumers’ behaviours.

“It is now more important than ever that businesses come together to look at ways of improving their offer through effective, innovative solutions. Innovation doesn’t always mean investing in expensive technology, but it can be looking at ways of simplifying an offer to improve on things such as energy consumption, or staff training. The HITS programme has been developed to support businesses through this process to secure their future prosperity.”

Chris Jewitt, Founder and CEO of FADNE said:

“We want to see the food, drink, hospitality and tourism sectors thrive here in the North East, creating high-quality jobs, improving the industries’ economic contribution (GVA) whilst promoting the region as a world-class food and drink destination.

“From the cliff edge of Brexit, the devastation caused by a global pandemic to the impending uncertainty surrounding the cost of living – these are truly unprecedented times for the region’s food, drink, hospitality and tourism industries. The HITS initiative offers an exciting window of opportunity to address some of these incredible challenges currently faced by businesses across the North of Tyne area and a chance to forge some change-making collaborations”.

To become a member sign up at Access to the event on 8 November is exclusively for members.