INNOVATION can mean different things to different businesses, but most will agree that the ability to innovate is vital for the life-cycle of a business to ensure sustainable growth. Unfortunately a lack of time, funds, skill or confidence can mean that SMEs often struggle to achieve their innovative ambitions.
The North East Business and Innovation Centre (BIC) has launched the Innovation Programme, utilising £724,000 of European Regional Development Fund, the programme is specifically designed to help the regions businesses prosper by investing in innovative developments designed to help businesses unlock their future potential.
The concept of the programme is simple; it seeks to help businesses by offering them much needed support as well as access to Innovation Specialists.
These Innovation Specialists have been handpicked from across the UK, spanning an array of industries from product design and engineering to finance and software development. Critical to the programme's success, the Innovation Specialists look to impart their expertise and knowledge within innovation to raise awareness, skills, allowing for businesses to develop and operate an effective innovative approach.
Since the programme began on February 1, 2012 the North East BIC has attracted over 50 applications from a wide range of companies, from technology and environmental to media and production.
The region has a long and proud tradition of innovation and here at the North East BIC we are supporting SMEs to fulfil their innovation potential, creating sustainable companies and fostering growth.
So how will innovation help growth in the region?
Ultimately it will reduce long term risk and increase sustainability. But there are many benefits innovation can bring to not only your business but the North East region. It saves time and money, having more efficient work processes in place and can increase customer satisfaction. As well as broadening product base, introducing a new service, exploring new markets, changing operating methods and developing new financial tools. The above are critical to the North East's future prosperity.
One company taking advantage of the innovation programme to turn their idea into a reality is Green Marine Solutions (pictured below), a North East based organisation exploiting the technology potentials within a new offshore asset management solution.
At the forefront of their industries, it is companies like Green Marine Solutions who are investing in innovation and driving the region forward to take advantage of opportunities in scientific and technological developments.
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. To be eligible for the Innovation Programme organisations must be North East based SME and be approximately 12 months old and must impact the North East, for example job creation.
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. www.ne-bic.co.uk/innovation or contact me on 0191 516 6039.
Elizabeth Shaw is innovation manager at the North East Business and Innovation Centre
OVER 50 YEARS IN THE OIL AND GAS SECTOR
This programme is in itself an innovation, one that will allow businesses to explore their own innovative potential
GREEN Marine Solutions (GMS) is a North East-based organisation which has a growing presence in the renewable offshore construction industry.
Looking to develop a new offshore asset management solution, GMS has over 50 years in the oil and gas sector and a team with wide range of experience in offshore construction and super yacht sectors.
Building on this knowledge, GMS provides management, consultant, personnel and product solutions; everything from vessel suitability to the Greater Gabbard Wind Farm, which at the time of construction was the largest in the world.
Richard Pargeter, operations director at GMS said: “Our asset management system will be the first of its kind in the industry and the support and investment from the North East SME Innovation Programme will allow us to grow in our international markets safeguarding jobs for the future"
Elizabeth Shaw, innovation manager, at the North East Business and Innovation Centre, said: “It is with great excitement that we welcomed GMS into the programme. They are an example of a truly innovative company and I look forward to seeing where the next three years take them.”