Specialist support from industry-leading companies, is now available, free of charge, via Open North Foundation (ONF), to small firms in the region looking to bounce back from Covid-19.

The not-for-profit ONF – a grass-roots, private sector response to the pandemic – has provided financial grants to numerous firms across the region over the past two years and is now considerably widening its support with a plethora of in-kind expertise.

The support services, donated by companies and organisations based in the North East, include energy consultancy services, a one-hour of HR advice/health check which could include advice regarding redundancy, rightsizing, operational HR, structuring outplacement services, expert support in developing an innovation, technology, product or process and financial forecasting.

Richard Swart, chair of Open North Foundation, said: “Once again the region’s celebrated private sector has come together to provide a vast range of specialist business services to assist the many brave small firms in our region who are looking to bounce back from the pandemic. While Covid restrictions have been lifted in the UK and life appears to returning to normal, for many companies the road to recovery is very challenging. The ONF is committed to assist those firms that were established both before and during the pandemic as they are the employers of the future. We can only do this with the incredible generosity of the private sector and other bodies that have stepped forward to provide both financial and in-kind support.

“While we will continue to award many financial grants during 2022, we would encourage business owners to contact us and, if they qualify, take advantage of the specialist support that is available to them which will help propel them forward.”

Open North Foundation was established in July 2020 and is a direct response from the business community in the North East to provide financial and in-kind support to small businesses in the region directly hit by the pandemic. It relies on the generosity of companies and organisations to provide donations and has a structure of a board of directors, ambassadors and supporters, all of whom provide their services free of charge.

The full list of business support services

  • Energy consultancy services.
  • Free 1-hour of HR advice/Health Check which could include advice regarding redundancy, rightsizing, operational HR, structuring outplacement services.
  • Expert support in developing an innovation, technology, product or process.
  • Business and strategy support.
  • Leadership and change management.
  • How to be successful in public affairs.
  • Understanding grant funding and research and development.
  • General export support.
  • Growth planning and costing.
  • Financial forecasting support and business finance health checks.
  • Stress management and well-being workshops.
  • Part-funded placements with our strategic partner, Newcastle Business School’s Small Business Leaders Programme. covering practical and operational topics, including: business model innovation; employee engagement; vision and brand; and operational and financial management.
  • To further support your business, our strategic partner Teesside University Business School, offers a range of fully-funded courses for SMEs in the Tees Valley region including; Leading Growth, Management Catalyst and Team Spark.
  • Mediation services of commercial disputes.
  • Management of Landlord/tenant matters.
  • Disputes about, or non-payment of rent, service charge and/or insurance.
  • Disrepair/dilapidations claims.
  • Financial planning/forecasting support.
  • One off tax advisory support.
  • Research & development tax relief analysis.