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£800k North East accelerator programme announces first grant winners

Challenge North Tyne Accelerator's debut cohort

Challenge North Tyne, an £800,000 open innovation project funded by North of Tyne Combined Authority, has announced the 50 businesses selected to receive £5,000 of initial grant funding.

Jamie Driscoll, Elected Metro Mayor for the North of Tyne, said: “We’ve got two big issues here: decarbonising housing and helping people to continue living a full life as they get older. So we’ve made money available to help local businesses with good ideas on how to tackle these challenges. And, from what I’ve seen, they are rising to meet them, head on.”

The programme is delivered in partnership by the North East LEP and Innovation SuperNetwork. Working with ‘challenge supporters’ from across industry, local government and academia, Challenge North Tyne will see solutions developed that will help to ‘deliver energy efficient, low carbon homes’ and ‘support older people at home, work and play’. The programme will facilitate collaboration between small to medium-sized businesses and larger organisations who are experts in each sector to allow for rapid development and testing of the proposed solutions.

Initial grant funding will be delivered alongside an accelerator programme, spanning across the next six months, which will bring together specialist support from the Innovation SuperNetwork through expertly crafted workshops and one-to-one sessions to give the successful businesses the toolkit they need to quickly turn their idea into real life scalable solutions.

Sarah Cox, Innovation Challenge Programme director at Innovation SuperNetwork, said: “Challenge North Tyne provides opportunities for organisations and communities to work together in developing and testing needed solutions to some tough problems that we really need to address.

“Developing these solutions will not be easy, and we appreciate that attempting a new approach to addressing a complex problem can be a difficult and lonely process. This is why it has been so fantastic to meet all the impressive leaders undertaking this hard work through our Accelerator Launch, and to see their enthusiasm and support for each other in developing solutions that will benefit our older citizens, environment, and reduce our energy use.”

Working on the ‘Decarbonisation of Homes’ Challenge, Fuzzy Logic is one of the businesses which has been successful in securing the initial round of grant funding. Harvey Trent, director of Fuzzy Logic Studio, said: “As we seek to decarbonise homes in the North East and beyond, there is a pressing need to ensure we have a skilled workforce to meet demand. Our focus at Fuzzy Logic Studio is to develop immersive learning tools that bridge the emerging skills gaps. A key part of our project will involve testing our concept with end-users to ensure it has the greatest impact possible.”

Anthony Blackburn, founder of Golf in Society, which has won funding in the supporting older people round, said: “Being a social entrepreneur who focuses on purpose over profit, it can be really challenging to find sustainable ways to deliver services that you know can change lives. Being part of the accelerator cohort, it really feels like we are building a community to collaborate and support like-minded entrepreneurs whose sole purpose is to create brighter futures. The connections and peer-support from this programme will be invaluable for me and my business, as I passionately believe that together we are stronger.”

The businesses that demonstrate the most potential will also be able to access further funding to help bring their solutions to market.

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