• Thu. Apr 18th, 2024

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North of Tyne scheme supports more than 400 SMEs through the pandemic

A North of Tyne Combined Authority funded Citylife Business Support programme which launched a year ago, has provided support to more than 400 small and medium sized businesses.

Citylife Business Support was launched to help businesses to sustain, recover and safeguard jobs, as well develop, and implement new models of delivery fit for the future.

Newcastle City Council developed this package of free support by extending and bringing together services and expertise from across the city. Delivery partners included the Business & IP Centre North East (BIPCNE) and NewcastleGateshead Initiative (NGI) who worked together to design and deliver a support package which provided SMEs in the North of Tyne access to one-to-one support from a range of ‘Citylife Experts’ and to an online events programme based on addressing current business challenges, the funding landscape, resilience and innovation, delivered by industry experts.

The online events included digital marketing masterclasses and introductions to innovative ways of working to help businesses plan for the future.

The Citylife programme held almost 40 online events which were attended by more than 420 businesses, 167 of these being eligible North of Tyne SMEs. 240 businesses also accessed one-to-one support with Citylife Experts in Residence, who worked with SMEs for up to eight hours to help them futureproof their business. Advice ranged from digital and online capabilities, business finance and cash flow to employment law, continuity planning and re-focussing business operations.

Citylife Business Support was one of six projects that were funded through the £1.5 million Capacity Fund that was granted to Newcastle City Council by the North of Tyne Combined Authority.

Cllr Joyce McCarty, Cabinet Member for Inclusive Economy at Newcastle City Council, said: “Throughout this pandemic, supporting our local economy to protect livelihoods and jobs has been a key focus of the council with over £125 million distributed in business support grants and business support services such as this.

“This service has been vital in equipping Newcastle business owners with the tools and skills they need to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and setting them on the path to success as part of our city’s recovery.”

Jennifer Hartley, Director at NewcastleGateshead Initiative, said: “It has been vital to support our region’s smaller businesses over the past year and the Citylife Support package has proven to be extremely popular with hundreds of businesses upskilling and innovating to adapt to our new way of living.

“Drawing from a range of sector specific expertise, the programme was able to help businesses tackle a range of challenges and remain resilient. This project shows what you can do when you work together, all playing a part in the economic and social resilience of our city. Although the programme has come to an end, the legacy of this project will live on and the Business & IP Centre will support more businesses with further funding through the Citylife Experts in Residence programme here in Newcastle.”

Commenting on the service, Kathryn Tye, Communications Manager at The Biscuit Factory, said: “The masterclasses absolutely gave me useful tools to be able to better identify opportunities based on our existing offer as a business, reinforcing some ideas that we already had, and helping me better understand and able to explain to the team why other ideas had not been successful.

“The workshops gave me the confidence to reassert previous suggestions, feeling that I now had ‘backup’ knowledge to justify what would and wouldn’t work.”

The Experts in Residence programme delivered through BIPC North East re-launched last month. The Citylife Business Support Grant will fund Newcastle-based SMEs with up to 12 hours of support from BIPCNE’s Experts. To find out more about our Experts in Residence and the Citylife Business Support scheme, go to https://www.bipcnortheast.co.uk/citylife-business-support/