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New Innovation Fund for region’s creative, digital and IT businesses

5th September 2017

Creative Fuse North East is looking for bright sparks to come up with exciting new ideas for its Innovation Pilot and Innovation Development Award scheme.

Grants of up to £25,000 are available for SMEs and freelancers in the region’s creative, digital and IT (CDIT) sector to help them find ways to grow and innovate in their business. To qualify for the funding, they will need to team up with staff from two regional universities.

Creative Fuse North East involves all five of the area’s universities – Teesside, Newcastle, Northumbria, Durham and Sunderland. Its aim is to ensure the CDIT sector in the region becomes more resilient, grows fast and creates more and better jobs in a sustainable digital economy.

Professor Eric Cross from Newcastle University is principal investigator on the £4m project. He said: ‘We want to hear ideas from businesses and freelancers which will help them to overcome challenges facing them, such as barriers to growth or developing new methods of working.

‘We’re particularly interested in applications which are ‘fused’ that is, combine ideas from creative design and technology.

‘The five university partners know just how important the CDIT sector is to our region and we are all looking forward to using our knowledge and expertise to help organisations achieve their goals.’

Creative Fuse North East will be supporting a range of £5,000 Innovation Pilot Awards, as well as a small number of Innovation Development Awards for projects up to £25,000.

Earlier this year, Creative Fuse North East carried out a survey of more than 500 firms to better understand the state of the CDIT sector in the North East. It found the turnover of more than half of businesses surveyed grew in 2015/16. It also highlighted that employment in the region’s creative industries grew faster than in the UK as a whole, with a 22.6% increase from 2001 and 2015, compared to 19.5% nationally.

Creative Fuse North East is a unique collaboration between Newcastle, Northumbria, Durham, Sunderland and Teesside universities and is funded jointly by the universities and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), Arts Council England (ACE) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

The deadline for Innovation Pilot and Innovation Development applications is Monday 16 October at 12.00pm.