Innovation Grant provides £1m boost to businesses North of Tyne

Mayor Jamie Driscoll and Holly Shiel-Redfern

More than £1m has been injected into innovative businesses across Northumberland, Newcastle, and North Tyneside thanks to the North of Tyne Innovation Recovery Grant (NTIRG).

Launched by the North of Tyne Combined Authority (NTCA) in June 2021, the grant is delivered in partnership by experienced grant fund managers, NBSL and specialist business support providers, Innovation SuperNetwork.  

It has helped more than 130 businesses, creating and safeguarding a combined 265 jobs across the North of Tyne area. It supports businesses to launch new innovative products to market and transform their operation with new processes or equipment. The funding has recently been extended with applications open to businesses until the end of the year.

“This is great. One million pounds to help businesses through hard times. We’ve helped companies to create and protect jobs. We’ve helped businesses to launch new products and improve how they do things. And all this while helping our local economy become greener and more sustainable for the future.”

Jamie Driscoll, Elected Metro Mayor for the North of Tyne

One business that has benefited from the Grant is Explain Market Research, an insight and engagement agency based in Newcastle. They received an £8,400 Grant to help deliver the project in collaboration with RazorBlue, an IT solutions company. The project has enabled Explain to create a mobile-friendly version of their secure research platform.

Holly Shiel-Redfern, Partner and Commercial Director at Explain, said: “Our online community platform is a method of social and digital engagement; it offers a branded members-only online space in which to directly engage ‘in the moment’ with a desired audience – such as customers, stakeholders, or employees. The platform continued to provide engagement solutions for our clients throughout Covid-19, and aligned to the growth in this area of our business we saw the opportunity to invest in a Mobile App. The app enables us to close the gap on digital exclusion and provides a better user experience.

“This app is also allowing us to compete nationally with government research procurement criteria, which favours inclusivity, carbon reduction and scalability. Without the North of Tyne Innovation Recovery Grant, we wouldn’t have been able to drive forward this project, which was both a significant cost outlay for us and a large time commitment. The grant and partnering with RazorBlue helped us to overcome these challenges.”

The Innovation Recovery Grant covers 50% of eligible business spend towards equipment projects costing between £5,000 and £20,000 (excluding VAT) or projects involving external expertise that cost between £8,000 and £20,000 – with grants of between £2,500 and £10,000 available.

The grant is open to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across Newcastle, Northumberland and North Tyneside.  Projects need to be innovative. This means they should change something for the better within a business – it could be a new product, an improved service or a new way of working, but it needs to be something the business has never done before. Funded though the North of Tyne Recovery Innovation Fund, the grant was launched to enable a green and sustainable recovery after Covid-19, projects with the potential to safeguard and create quality jobs, build a more inclusive economy and contribute towards the net zero agenda have all been given funding.