• Tue. Jun 25th, 2024

North East Connected

Hopping Across The North East From Hub To Hub

North East leads the UK in innovation funding projects

CaptureA SUCCESSFUL innovation infrastructure is critical to the productivity of the UK’s businesses, the head of the UK’s innovation agency said today.

Dr Ruth McKernan CBE, chief executive of Innovate UK, said businesses did not need to be high-tech themselves to benefit from innovation – the value was in bringing companies across the whole supply chain together, from large manufacturing companies to SMEs.

Dr McKernan was speaking ahead of her keynote speech at the Innovation Supply Chain Conference, at the North East Technology Park (NETPark), in Sedgefield, County Durham, next month.

She said the North East was leading the way when it came to winning funding from Innovate UK, with the region’s businesses winning more funding per head than any other area of the UK.

“The North East is a very strong area and a very successful area when it comes to winning funding from Innovate UK. There are 300 projects in the region which is something to be proud of,” she said.

“All businesses, of any type, if they want to improve their productivity, they need to innovate. An innovation infrastructure is absolutely critical. But one of the things I’ve learnt talking to companies is that it’s not always about money. Sometimes what’s required is connecting businesses together so that they learn from each other.”

Business Durham, the economic development company for County Durham, which runs NETPark, has organised the conference to provide aplatform for engagement with local businesses; foster collaborations and help demystify the perception around the potential opportunities in the science and technology supply chain. They are opportunities which will be provided by NETPark companies both now and also in the future.

Dr McKernan said: “We are big supporters of the North East and we’d encourage people to come along and learn, if not from me, then from the companies around them.

“It’s vital we put companies together that actually have something to share, be it process innovation, electronics or renewable technologies, and that we understand what each region’s strengths are.”

One of NETPark’s strengths lies in its materials integration, particularly surface science, printable electronics, microelectronics, photonics, nanotechnology and their applications in the fields of energy, defence and medical related technologies.

NETPark-based PolyPhotonix is just one company in the region which has received grant funding from Innovate UK to help develop itsNoctura 400 sleep mask, a home-based, non-invasive and monitored treatment for people with diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macularoedema.

Alongside Dr McKernan, the conference, on March 10, will feature a talk from PolyPhotonix CEO, Richard Kirk and Dr Graham Hillier from NETPark-based CPI.

Business Durham’s innovation and business growth director, Catherine Johns, said: “We’re delighted that Dr McKernan is speaking at the conference. It really highlights how much opportunity there is for the entire supply chain in working with high tech companies.

“As Dr McKernan says, North East companies are excelling when it comes to innovation – and there are a myriad of opportunities out there for many more businesses.”

The Innovation Supply Chain Conference will take place at NETPark, Sedgefield, in County Durham on March 10. To find out more and book your place visit www.northeasttechnologypark.com/supply

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