Companies in County Durham who are looking to do new things in their business are being urged to take advantage of a new funded support service from Teesside University.

Innovate Durham offers advice, mentoring and practical support to SMEs who want to grow by developing new products or services or by introducing new processes into the business.

Its highly successful sister programme, Innovate Tees Valley, has been running for two years and is working to help more than 270 businesses across Teesside.

Innovate Durham, which is part-financed by a grant from the European Regional Development Fund, offers SMEs the services of a dedicated business innovation manager, who will work with them to understand what they want to achieve, identify potential projects, and develop a practical action plan of support.

Services include:

Innovation advice and support: This is fully funded, and can include identifying innovation gaps and opportunities, technical consultancy on innovation challenges and bid-writing support to access research and innovation funding pots.

Knowledge Exchange Internships and graduate placements: This managed service offers recruitment support and 50% funding towards the cost of a graduate who will work in the business for up to 12 months. The graduate can also be supported by University academics to work on an agreed innovation project.

Laura Woods, Director of The Forge, Teesside University’s business hub, said: “Innovate Durham is a straightforward, accessible way of helping ambitious SMEs meet new challenges and find new ways to innovate and grow.

“Innovate Tees Valley has already helped scores of businesses, and it’s fantastic that we are now able to bring our tried and tested model into County Durham to support local SMEs.

“We hope that as many businesses as possible can take advantage of this opportunity and work with us to help grow the North East’s economy.”

Innovate Durham is a part-funded service available to growth-oriented businesses in County Durham employing fewer than 250 staff and with an annual turnover of no greater than €50m per annum.

The project has received up to £693,654 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.

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