SMEs in the North East are being given the opportunity to partner with European businesses to develop new projects, solving problems posed by multinational manufacturers such as Nissan, Caterpillar and Komatsu.

The North East has been selected to pilot the Open Innovation 2.0 Lab programme which is designed to encourage cross-border collaboration and to give SMEs the opportunity to devise solutions to problems faced by large manufacturers.

Alan Welby, Innovation Director at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), explained:

“We know we have innovative, forward-thinking businesses here in the North East and this project will give those companies the chance to access real business opportunities with some of the largest manufacturing companies in Europe. The North East, along with Stuttgart, has been selected to pilot this programme and we will be matching international businesses that have industrial challenges with SMEs from our region and from Europe who can work together to provide solutions.”

SMEs which take part in Open Innovation 2.0 Lab will be given a real-world challenge which is faced by a large manufacturing business and invited to submit an idea for a possible solution. Those which are selected for the programme will be partnered with a European SME to further develop their idea and will also receive a €5000 voucher to support their work.

“We are strong believers in collaboration and by pairing each North East SME with a European counterpart we hope that businesses will be able to work together to further develop, strengthen and refine their ideas,” added Alan Welby.

The project is open to all SMEs based in the North East and businesses are invited to attend a launch event on Thursday 24 January at Newcastle’s Crowne Plaza where the challenge will be unveiled.

Successful applicants will be paired with a European partner in April 2019 to collaborate and work their idea into a deliverable solution.

Open Innovation 2.0 LAB is a two year Horizon 2020 project managed by partners from Greece, Luxembourg, Belgium, Germany and the UK.

Open Innovation 2.0 LAB is led in the North East by the North East LEP, RTC and Innovation SuperNetwork.

You can register for the launch event at

Find out more about the Open Innovation 2.0 Lab at

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