North East LEP innovation director Alan Welby
North East LEP innovation director Alan Welby
Richard Bell

North East SMEs to develop manufacturing solutions with European partners

North East SMEs will soon have the chance to partner with European companies and solve problems posed by multinationals like Nissan, Komatsu and Caterpillar.

The region is set to pilot the Open Innovation 2.0 Lab programme, which encourages cross-border collaboration and aims to give SMEs the opportunity to create solutions to the problems faced by big manufacturers.

Participating firms will be given a real-world challenge and invited to submit an idea for a solution. Those selected will be paired with a European SME and receive a €5,000 voucher to further develop their idea.

Open Innovation 2.0 Lab is a two-year Horizon 2020 project managed by partners in the UK, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and Greece.

In the North East it is led by the LEP, RTC and Innovation SuperNetwork.

Alan Welby, innovation director at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said: “We know we have innovative, forward-thinking businesses here in the North East and this project will give those companies the chance to access real business opportunities with some of the largest manufacturing companies in Europe.

“The North East, along with Stuttgart, has been selected to pilot this programme and we will be matching international businesses that have industrial challenges with SMEs from our region and from Europe who can work together to provide solutions.”

He added: “We are strong believers in collaboration and by pairing each North East SME with a European counterpart we hope that businesses will be able to work together to further develop, strengthen and refine their ideas.”

A launch event for the Open Innovation 2.0 Lab will be held on Thursday, January 24 at the Crowne Plaza in Newcastle.

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