In preparation for the launch of an exciting new programme which will run over the next three years, the North East Business and Innovation Centre (BIC) has recently recruited Elizabeth Shaw as Innovation Manager.
In this interview, Elizabeth outlines the key benefits of the Innovation Programme, which aims to increase the understanding of the innovation process and enable businesses to turn their ideas from inclination into real business benefits.
“Derived from the Latin word ‘Innovatus’; the noun of innovaire meaning to renew; alter or change, the ability to innovate is vital to the life-cycle of a business but the unfortunate reality is that so many businesses aren’t able to realise their innovative ambitions as they don’t have the time or funds to explore them,” says Elizabeth.
“The concept of the Innovation Programme is simple; it seeks to reverse this trend by helping businesses to get over this initial hurdle, offering them much needed support and access to specialists who will not only look at the viability of the idea but also the longer term business benefits of developing it.
“This could involve broadening their product base, introducing a new service, exploring new markets, changing operating methods, developing new financial tools or making better usage of technology.”
Elizabeth, who is from Teesside and joins the BIC after successfully completing an MSc in Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship at Newcastle University, continues: “The North East has a long and proud tradition of innovation; and recent initiatives like Codeworks and Science City have done much to encourage innovative sectors like gaming and life sciences which is fantastic for the region. Likewise this project, which utilises £724,000 ERDF investment and is part financed by the European Union’s ERDF Competitiveness Programme 2007-13 will help to benefit the innovators of the future; and enable us to ensure more SMEs receive help to make them aware of the innovation process and its benefits.”
From 1st February, firms will be able to apply, via an online application process. The project is primarily aimed at high-growth businesses, but is appropriate for any business which is interested in becoming more innovative.
The launch follows months of intensive work at the BIC, where the team has hand-picked innovation specialists from a national pool, who will go on to guide and work with SMEs throughout the duration of the 3 year programme, providing detailed knowledge of where to turn for help during and beyond the project.
Elizabeth added: “It’s of the utmost importance that we have the best choice of innovation specialists possible. Therefore, creating the bank has involved a procurement process where we invited firms and individuals nationwide to come forward. This has allowed us to make our final selections for innovation specialists from an extremely broad pool.
“This programme is in itself an innovation, one that will allow businesses to explore their own innovative potential and will ultimately bring wider benefits to the regional economy. It is a welcome addition to the existing support that is available for forward thinking enterprises and I would encourage anyone wishing to explore own innovative ideas to get in touch and find out more.”
For more details on the North East Innovation Programme and information on how to apply, visit www.ne-bic.co.uk.