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New Innovation Fund for Region’s Creative, Digital and IT Businesses

4th September 2017

Creative Fuse North East is looking for bright sparks to come up with exciting new ideas for its Innovation Pilot and Innovation Development Award scheme.

Grants of up to £25,000 are available for SMEs and freelancers in the region’s creative, digital and IT (CDIT) sector to help them find ways to grow and innovate in their business. To qualify for the funding, they will need to team up with staff from two regional universities.

Creative Fuse North East involves all five of the area’s universities, including Northumbria University, Newcastle. Its aim is to ensure the CDIT sector in the region becomes more resilient, grows fast and creates more and better jobs in a sustainable digital economy.

Professor Eric Cross from Newcastle University is principal investigator on the £4m project. He said: “We want to hear ideas from businesses and freelancers which will help them to overcome challenges facing them, such as barriers to growth or developing new methods of working.

“We’re particularly interested in applications which are ‘fused’ that is, combine ideas from creative design and technology.

“The five university partners know just how important the CDIT sector is to our region and we are all looking forward to using our knowledge and expertise to help organisations achieve their goals.”

Creative Fuse North East will be supporting a range of £5,000 Innovation Pilot Awards, as well as a small number of Innovation Development Awards for projects up to £25,000.

Mark Bailey, academic lead for Creative Fuse North East at Northumbria University, said: “The FUSE Innovation team at Northumbria is really looking forward to working with more of the region’s CDIT businesses.

“We know that pushing creative boundaries and trying new things can be daunting and can feel like a distraction from the ‘day-job’. However, we have a great team and an impressive track-record for helping businesses move out of their comfort zones to try new things and enter, or create, new markets.

“These innovation grants offer a risk-free opportunity for businesses to work with leading experts from across the region.”

Earlier this year, Creative Fuse North East carried out a survey of more than 500 firms to better understand the state of the CDIT sector in the North East. It found the turnover of more than half of businesses surveyed grew in 2015/16. It also highlighted that employment in the region’s creative industries grew faster than in the UK as a whole, with a 22.6% increase from 2001 and 2015, compared to 19.5% nationally.

Creative Fuse North East is a unique collaboration between Newcastle, Northumbria, Durham, Sunderland and Teesside universities and is funded jointly by the universities and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), Arts Council England (ACE) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

The deadline for Innovation Pilot and Innovation Development applications is Monday 16th October at 12pm. For more information about the application process, visit

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