GX project
Sophie Craggs.

Local SMEs invited to take part in 'innovative' GX programme

Applications are being sought from SMEs within the North East LEP (Local Enterprise Partnership) area that could benefit from resource and research to drive innovation.

GX, a two-year business innovation programme forming part of the Great Exhibition of the North and its 2019 activity, comprises two key strands: a grant funding scheme; and Collaborate, a research and development scheme.

Part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and delivered by NewcastleGateshead Initiative (NGI), in partnership with Innovation SuperNetwork, the GX programme will run until October 2019.

Carol Bell, director of major events and festivals at NewcastleGateshead Initiative, said: “Innovation is key to the success of any business, as well as the landscape and society in which it operates.

“However, it can be difficult to balance the resource required for current operations with future innovation. This is why GX aims to create opportunities for SMEs to unlock this potential and make innovation a reality.

“During round one of the grants scheme, we made a total of 13 grants across a range of sectors including the creative, digital, software and tech sectors.

“We are now keen to see more applications for grants, as well as collaborative research and development partnerships.”

The grant scheme is now open for its second wave of funding that will support SMEs looking to develop new products or services.

Grants of up to £5,000 are available in this strand.

Meanwhile, Collaborate will broker research partnerships worth up to £11k between SMEs and research institutions to work together on innovation projects.

GX was developed to engage North East LEP SMEs and scaleups to unlock their innovation capacity, propensity to collaborate and ability to develop new products.

To be eligible for both schemes, businesses must be a registered company and employ no more than 250 staff, with an annual turnover of less than £44m.

Carol added: “To be successful, applicants should have a strong understanding of the problem or need and an outline approach of how to solve it.

“For the second wave of the grants scheme, we are particularly keen to hear from SMEs within the Sunderland, South Tyneside, Durham and Northumberland areas, however, the scheme is open to all eligible businesses in the North East LEP area.”

The closing date for GX expressions of interests for both schemes is February 15.

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