Hundreds of companies have been helped to innovate and grow, thanks to a ground-breaking partnership led by Teesside University.
The Innovate Tees Valley project, which began in November 2016 and ended last month, has also helped businesses in the region develop 144 new products and create over 40 jobs.
As a result of its success, a new three-year support programme will be announced shortly. Companies are being encouraged to contact the university if they would like to take advantage of its services.
Innovate Tees Valley was delivered by the university in conjunction with the North East Process Industry Cluster (NEPIC), the Materials Processing Institute (MPI) and DigitalCity, to help companies build capacity, create new products and services and enter new markets.
Part-funded by an ERDF grant, and supported by the Tees Valley Combined Authority, the initiative has helped to deliver a significant increase in the number of innovation-active SMEs. It has created a lasting impact on the region’s productivity and innovation culture, by increasing new products and services, knowledge-base connectivity, export potential, and know-how.
The achievements of Innovate Tees Valley include:
• 372 SMEs supported (target: 297)
• 40 new jobs in SMEs (target 25)
• 144 products new to market and/or firm (target 114)
Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen said: “Innovate Tees Valley has been a hugely successful initiative. The number of local companies that have taken advantage of this programme shows just how entrepreneurial and ambitious our region’s businesses are.
“The programme’s record of success in enhancing collaboration, growing innovation capacity and creating high-quality, well-paid career opportunities speaks for itself. Its successful delivery is a credit to Teesside University.”
Services offered by Innovate Tees Valley included mentoring, academic consultancy, innovation advice and support, access to export networks and part-funded graduate placements and knowledge exchange internships.
Laura Woods, director of academic enterprise at Teesside University, said: “Innovate Tees Valley set out to help SMEs meet the challenges of growth and help them develop and exploit new ideas.
“We’re delighted at the success of the project and the impact it is continuing to make in the Tees Valley. Innovate Tees Valley is now firmly established as a key element of the region’s innovation strategy.
“We’re looking forward to building on these successes over the next three years.”