New programme to drive innovation in County Durham announced

Companies are invited to find out more about a new programme that has been launched to support innovation in the construction, health and electech sectors across County Durham.

Set up by Business Durham, the economic development arm of Durham County Council, the Durham Future Innovation Building (DFIB) programme is open to SMEs who are looking to invest in research and development to help bring their innovative product, process, or service for the future to market.

The programme is targeted at the key growth sectors of construction, health and ‘electech’ (electronics, electrical and embedded software). It will create opportunities for companies to collaborate and learn from industry and subject matter experts.

It will support companies to work up their ideas and connect to individuals and other businesses who can help in developing new innovations. The programme will enable them to adapt, discover new markets, become trend setters, continuously assess their products, and adjust quickly to market conditions.

Sarah Slaven, Business Durham’s interim Managing Director, said: “Business Durham has a proven track record of helping innovative companies grow and thrive, and bringing innovation to market. Innovators can sometimes have great ideas, but they are not always able to research and develop products for a variety of reasons. We recognise the importance in helping businesses overcome these challenges to develop their products, so we’re thrilled to be launching the Durham Future Innovation Building programme.

“We are looking forward to developing a ‘mini-innovation ecosystem’ in County Durham for each of the three sectors, so we can not only inspire businesses about the potential for innovation in these areas, but also provide companies with easy access to the advice, contacts, and funding they need to bring forward new product ideas.”

The DFIB Programme will be delivered through a series of events, masterclasses, workshops and practical sessions, designed to help businesses unlock their innovation potential and develop their knowledge and skills – even outside their initial area of expertise.

In addition to the masterclasses and workshops, companies will be able to apply for funding to increase their expertise either by taking on their own experts or bringing in external consultants and specialists.

Cllr Carl Marshall, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for economic recovery, said: “I am delighted we are launching the Durham Future Innovation Building programme at a time when business support is needed more than ever. The DFIB programme is just one of the ways we are supporting companies during this rapidly changing time. By taking part businesses will be able to remain competitive, develop new products, grow supply chains, improve productivity, employment, and wider economic prospects, which will enable them to thrive while creating and safeguarding more and better jobs.”

The Durham Future Innovation Building programme is two-and-a-half-year programme funded by the European Regional Development Fund (EDRF) for SMEs running up until July 2023.

Get more details about the programme and eligibility criteria.

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