Northumbria secures funding worth up to £1.9 million to help SMEs and graduate start-ups

Northumbria University has launched a project that offers a package of financial support and expert advice to SMEs and graduate start-ups, thanks to funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

The Northumbria Enterprise and Business Support 2 (NEBS2) also includes a financial contribution to help small businesses employ up to two graduates, typically on 6-month internships programmes.

With ERDF funding the support will run until June 2023 and is available to businesses in Tyne and Wear and Northumberland.  The aim is to provide a coherent package of services to enhance the competitiveness and growth of SMEs, and to support the creation of new graduate enterprises. Businesses who are looking at ways to respond more effectively to the challenges of Covid-19, or recruit highly talented student interns, are encouraged to apply.

NEBS2 follows the success of a previous project which ran from 2015 to 2018 and benefited more than 150 businesses in the region. Overall, this latest project is expected to support 230 new and existing SMEs and provide internship opportunities to 120 graduates.

Launching the project now will also complement a wider regional response to Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdown which has hit the North East economy harder than most. Northumbria has already engaged with the Regional Covid-19 Economic Response Group, which includes the North East LEP, regional CBI, North of Tyne and North East Combined Authorities, other regional universities and transport providers. A plan set out by the group sets out several steps to recovery, such as start-up programmes for newly redundant employees, graduates and previous business owners, alongside employment support and skills initiatives for those who have lost jobs as a result of the pandemic.

Northumbria is also working nationally with The Department for Business Energy Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to provide direct support to 180 SMEs in the region through the Small Business Leadership Programme.