ERDF don’t just invest in business. They invest in innovation.
With £800 million of ERDF funding still available, the European Regional Development Fund continues to be a major source of economic development investment in the UK regions.
In their midterm reviews of regional ERDF programmes (with reports at intervals between summer 2010 and autumn 2011), Regeneris Consulting reported that programmes have ‘just two more years to invest a significant amount of uncommitted money’.
Looking at their recent evaluations, Regeneris believe that ‘maintaining the focus on enterprise and innovation’ is one of the pointers that programmes need to consider to step up to this challenge. They say that ‘regions have a clear signal that the EU’s commitment to enterprise and innovation will remain and attempts to shift away from the Lisbon agenda at this stage may prove to just be a wasteful distraction’.
One organisation that has successfully secured funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to subsidise their new project is the Business and Innovation Centre (NE BIC), based in the North East of England.
The BIC is part of the European Business and Innovation Centre Network (EBN) and the only business support agency of its kind in the North East of England region. It has a history of successful partnership working with public and private sector organisations. As an innovative management consultancy, Ascend Twentyone fully supports and welcomes this positive and innovative approach to work.
A £724,000 fund for North East businesses is available via the NE BIC on their latest venture, the ‘North East Small and Medium Enterprise Innovation programme’. The project is designed to help Small and Medium Enterprises in the North East of England to prosper by helping them to drive innovation, productivity and consequent growth in their business.
This is a great opportunity for SMEs in the North East and successful businesses will reap the rewards from this exciting new project – helping them to become more innovative by achieving significant step changes in their business performance. It will enable SMEs to increase their competitiveness and exploit more opportunities for their business in the future. What’s more, this new project aims to develop the North East region’s businesses and improve their innovation capacity.
Innovation is all about ‘thinking outside the box’ and doing a completely ‘new thing’ or finding a ‘new way’ of doing something that you already do. This could mean introducing a new service to your existing offering, making changes to your methods of operating, improving or developing business and finance systems or introducing new technologies to help your business. It’s also about reducing the risk involved in finding the right path towards improved productivity and growth in your business.
Ultimately, innovation is essential to the growth of your organisation, especially in the current economic climate. And we’ve said this before: you need to be ready for when a good idea comes along by making sure you have the kind of sound innovation process in place that ensures you can really take advantage of it.
Here at Ascend Twentyone, we can help, guide and support your business towards being much more innovative, and help you put a range of innovation processes and services in place which can ultimately protect or improve your business’s financial health. Get in touch now and make the most of our experience – and our advice.
Or, to find out more about the North East Small and Medium Enterprise Innovation programme, visit the NE BIC website.