The North East Business and Innovation Centre (BIC) has expanded by recruiting a new member of staff who will support the region’s SMEs.
The business centre in Sunderland which provides commercial space and business support services has appointed an innovation adviser to help drive its SME Innovation Programme.
Michelle Hambleton, formerly of BE Group and the Education and Skills Funding Agency, will mainly support Durham-based businesses on the programme to help them realise their innovative ambitions by developing new products and services.
“The Innovation Programme attracted me due to the sheer diversity of businesses I’ll be able to work with,” said Michelle, “it’s inspiring to see how hard the North East’s business owners work to be as innovative as they can be.”
And being co-owner of a construction business herself alongside her new role, Michelle knows what it takes for businesses to be successful.
“From running my own business I’ve learned how important it is to keep up with emerging trends and technological developments.” Michelle commented.
“But it’s also imperative that SMEs future-proof by creating unique products and services to target new markets and generate growth.
“Innovation means more than keeping up with your competitors – it’s about positioning yourself as a leader in your market and is fundamental to business success.”
The SME Innovation Programme is building on prior successes having worked with businesses across the North East for the last three years providing support towards their innovative ideas.
To do this, the BIC receives funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to provide access to grant funding which allows eligible businesses to have up to 40% of £40,000 towards the cost of external expertise.
Having already helped some businesses launch their unique products and services, Michelle is looking forward to utilising her new-found connections to work with other SMEs and deliver expertise to any future projects.
Michelle added: “I’m enjoying working with my clients so far and I’m looking forward to sharing my knowledge with more business owners to help them be successful.”