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Business & Economy

North East receives backing to drive digital technology innovation and growth

The North East has been selected to receive up to £7.5 million of new investment to drive local innovation and business growth, building on the region’s existing strengths in digital technologies.

Under the Launchpad programme, businesses and researchers can apply for competitive grants and business support for innovation projects that focus on the development of new digital technology that could drive growth in the North East economy.

Colin Bell, business growth director at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, which is coordinating the programme in the North East in partnership with Innovate UK, said: “We know we have strong digital tech clusters operating in the North East and this new programme will give them access to the finance and support they need to develop and bring to market new software, immersive technologies and artificial intelligence applications.

“The focus of the North East Launchpad is on tech which, once developed, has the potential to drive growth and job creation in other sectors of our economy, from offshore and subsea engineering through to the creative industries.”

The competition opens on 30 October 2023, and interested organisations are invited to sign up for a competition briefing event to find out more.

Grant funding starts from £25,000, with up to £1 million for projects that provide exceptional impact to the digital technologies innovation cluster in North East England, consisting of Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, and County Durham.

The Launchpad programme is funded by Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation.

It is designed to build on innovation clusters around the UK that have significant growth potential and to deliver jobs, growth, and higher productivity, supporting the Government’s levelling-up agenda.

The North East Launchpad has been developed jointly by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP) and Innovate UK, and tailored to the region’s needs and circumstances.

The projects will contribute to the creation of more and better jobs in the North East, particularly in sectors which have been identified as areas of opportunity, including green industries, advanced manufacturing, retail and town centre renewal.

Successful applicants can receive grant funding for projects, alone or with collaborators, as well as additional support from Innovate UK and local providers as part of management of the local cluster.

Indro Mukerjee, Innovate UK chief executive, added: “Innovate UK is building strong regional partnerships across the UK to support local innovation and commercialisation.

“Our new Launchpads will help to attract further private sector research and development investment into innovation clusters, growing local economies and delivering societal and economic benefits to local communities.”

To find out more about the North East digital technologies Launchpad competition, and to sign up for a local stakeholder engagement session, visit