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Business & Economy

New SME Bounce Back funding programme launched by Creative Fuse Tees Valley

Small and-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and freelancers in the creative industries have received a major boost with the launch of new programme of financial resources and support just as the country enters a new national lockdown.

Creative Fuse Tees Valley, part of Creative Fuse North East – a partnership between Newcastle, Durham, Northumbria, Sunderland and Teesside universities funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the European Regional Development Fund – and in conjunction with DigitalCity, has devised a high-impact scheme to help SMEs and incorporated non-profits in the creative, cultural, heritage and digital sectors based in the Tees Valley bounce back from Covid-19.

The programme, which will be delivered by business advisory and financial professionals firm Edale, is free to eligible individuals or companies and includes four masterclasses, plus one-to-one mentoring support from industry experts covering investment, grant applications and securing funding from a wide range of sources.

Initial support is available for 20 businesses, and is accessible for carers as masterclasses are delivered within family-friendly hours. With the first cohort running from 10am-1pm on 26th January and 2nd, 9th February and 23rd February, and the second cohort from 12-3pm on 4th, 11th, 18th and 25th March, interested SMEs and freelancers can now apply for the programme at

“Creative Fuse Tees Valley is here to help identify how SMEs and freelancers in the creative and cultural sectors complement and add value to each other, sharing best practice and encouraging innovative ways of working,” explained Sharon Paterson, Associate Director of Culture and Engagement at MIMA and Teesside University. “We were delighted to introduce Creative Fuse Tees Valley as part of Creative Fuse North East’s CAKE (Collaboration and Knowledge Exchange) monthly networking event in December which brought together businesses, freelancers, academics, charities and creative practitioners from across the creative, digital and IT sector.”

“Now, being able to offer our Bounce Back funding programme in partnership with DigitalCity is a really key feature, as it means we can support both creative and digital businesses, and cross-refer as needed to ensure maximum impact. This project will be absolutely vital to the future success of individuals and companies in our region at a time of further economic difficulties facing the sector – and also directly supports the objectives of the Tees Valley Combined Authority’s £1 million cultural industries and visitor economy recovery programme, which was launched by Mayor Ben Houchen in June.”

Creative Fuse Tees Valley, which was officially launched last month, supports the creation of a vibrant and a successful cluster of digital and creative across the Tees Valley including Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar & Cleveland and Stockton-on-Tees. Business development support is free to creative, cultural and heritage SMEs and freelancers who are based in the Tees Valley until December 2022.

As well as the growth programme of workshops, support includes a fully-funded graduate placement programme delivered in a four-week block and backed up by Teesside University academic expertise, and access to University facilities (post-Covid-19) including 3D printing, specialist testing equipment and laboratory space as part of any academic research/assist project. For an exploratory discussion, or for more information on how Creative Fuse Tees Valley can support your business growth project, please contact Business Development Manager Wendy Parvin via [email protected].

Creative Fuse North East is a multi-disciplinary, multi-stakeholder action research project focused on the strength, diversity and nuanced nature of the North East’s creative, digital and IT sector (CDIT). For more information, please visit