A North East innovation support organisation is investing in its own future development by moving into larger bespoke office space.
Innovation SuperNetwork is using a £24,000 investment from the North East Small Loan Fund Supported by The European Regional Development Fund to support its move into new premises within the North East Business & Innovation Centre (BIC) on the Wearfield Enterprise Park in Sunderland.
The Small Loan Fund investment was secured through regional fund management firm NEL Fund Managers and will enable the organisation, and the growing innovative businesses it supports, to make better use of the BIC’s new Innovation Zone business incubator and co-working space.
Founded in 2015, the Innovation SuperNetwork is strategically aligned with the North East LEP with a mission to increase the adoption of innovative practice in regional businesses through cross-sector collaboration, ultimately supporting economic growth.
It is responsible for creating and managing a range of successful business support and entrepreneurial initiatives, including VentureFest North East, FinanceCamp North East as part of a wider Access to Finance programme, Innovation Challenge and the North East Innovation Awards.
Innovation SuperNetwork currently has 14 members of staff but is looking to bring in a number of new innovation managers following an expansion in its remit to deliver sector-specific accelerator and cluster innovation programmes. Ensuring it has the space available to accommodate a bigger team was part of the rationale for the move.
Simon Green, CEO at Innovation SuperNetwork, says: “All our innovation projects are built around collaboration and joint creation. This means it’s really important for our team to be able to work in the same space and to be working alongside innovative businesses and partners.
“Our recent office move provides the extra space for this, whilst locating in the Innovation Zone means that businesses, investors and innovation support organisations can take up space right next to our team.
“Without external funding, we would not have been able to afford the move as it meant buying bespoke furniture and IT equipment to fit our needs. We’ve previously helped connect NEL with other growing North East businesses and when it came to looking to raise investment capital for ourselves, it seemed like a natural option to talk to them.”
Part of the £120m North East Fund and aimed predominantly at smaller SMEs, the £9m North East Small Loan Fund typically offers loans of between £10,000 and £50,000 to businesses in Tyne & Wear, Durham and Northumberland.
It is designed to assist with the creation of over 1,200 new regional jobs in more than 320 SMEs over the life of the fund.
Jonathan Armitage, investment executive at NEL Fund Managers, adds: “Innovation SuperNetwork is the catalyst for a huge amount of business innovation and success across and beyond the North East.
“The facilities and infrastructure that they’re now putting in place will have a substantial positive impact on both Innovation SuperNetwork’s future progress and the wider regional economy.”
The overarching North East Fund will provide financial support for more than 600 businesses, creating around 3,500 jobs and delivering a legacy of up to £80m for further investment into the region.
NEL is also responsible for investing the £18m North East Growth Capital Fund, which offers unsecured investments of up to £500,000 to established businesses looking to realise their growth potential.