(L - R): Sarah Slaven, Jenny Taylor, Arun Harish, Peter McDowell and Amy Harhoff.
Matthew Neville

County Durham organisations unite to encourage innovation via £820k government funding

Three Durham based organisations are working together to encourage innovation and business growth in new and emerging markets after receiving £820k in funding from the Government’s UK Community Renewal Fund (CRF).

Business Durham, the business support service of Durham County Council, the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI), and Durham University aim to build on each of their existing strengths and capabilities to support innovative business development in key sectors including science, technology, and space.

The Emerging Markets Innovation Accelerator project focuses on supporting County Durham SMEs, university spinouts and potential startup businesses, and will pilot and further develop new approaches to accelerating the innovation opportunities in areas which play to County Durham’s strengths.

Key elements of the project include support to SMEs in the development and market positioning of new and improved products and advanced materials, which is being delivered by CPI.

Companies will benefit from access to specialist equipment and facilities at the North East Technology Park (NETPark) at Sedgefield, and CPI’s expertise in product development, prototyping, optimisation, cost modelling and commercialisation support.

To encourage the development of university spin-outs, Durham University is providing a targeted PhD enterprise programme to support their PhD students with a bespoke entrepreneurship training programme focussing on deep technology commercialisation.

Additionally, Business Durham is leading on a diversification support programme for businesses looking to explore new emerging markets, including support for businesses that are keen to engage in opportunities within the space and satellites sector.

Sarah Slaven, managing director at Business Durham said: “We’re delighted to be collaborating with CPI and Durham University as we all have a strong track record in delivering projects, and in working together in partnership, including successfully delivering previous innovation support projects.

“With new and emerging markets comes the demand for an innovative workforce which can rise to the challenge, so this project aims to maximise opportunities for both businesses and individuals across these fast-growing sectors.”

Jenny Taylor, head of economic development at Durham University, added: “By working together to encourage more businesses to innovate we continue to create vibrant and collaborative ecosystems, bridging the gap between academic research and industry practice in County Durham.”

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