North East LEP: Challenge North East

Through a new open innovation programme called Challenge North East, the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is offering financial support to SMEs who can help find solutions to two specific COVID-19-related problems. 

If you’re an innovative business with ideas for how in-person events and home-based services can be delivered safely, we’d love to hear from you.

Up to £5k grant funding is available between January and March 2021, with the possibility of being in the running to win a grant of up to £40k to scale the most impactful solution in each area.

Expressions of interest need to be submitted by 8 January 2021.

The first call in the programme is ‘Together again: Delivering safe and engaging in-person events’.

This seeks answers to how people might be able to gather safely again indoors and outdoors, while achieving an engaging experience for those watching at home.

Solutions could revolve around the creative direction of events, digital opportunities, COVID-19-related measures, how people move round venues, public confidence and more.

The second Challenge North East call is known as ‘Safe again: Adapting home-based services’.

COVID-19 has significantly disrupted the delivery of services in peoples’ homes, impacting safety, confidence and trust and increasing the need for new approaches. There is also a growing need to ensure home-based service standards remain high.

Ideas for new ways of working and support for those who deliver and rely on home-based services will be eligible for funding and development support. This challenge has been shaped by leading regional organisations from housing associations, utilities, community support and social care, among others.

Alan Welby, director of innovation at the North East LEP, said:

“Two of the best things about the North East are its problem-solving nature and collaborative spirit. Through Challenge North East we want to harness both these things to resolve some of the issues that life with COVID-19 has presented.

“While a vaccine may be on its way, we are a long way from being COVID-safe so we really need to find solutions to the problems organisations are facing and will be for the next 18 months.

“There’s no long now to apply before the deadline of 8th January so we’re urging businesses to complete an expression of interest ASAP.”

Challenge North East is being delivered by the Innovation SuperNetwork, Digital Catapult North East Tees Valley and Sunderland Software City.

Find out more and how to apply

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