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Region's universities spark creative business boost

27th February 2019


A unique partnership bringing together the North East’s five universities has supported hundreds of small businesses, helping to boost innovation, create jobs and attract additional funding.

Creative Fuse has worked with more than 277 firms across the North East since it began in 2016. Typically for the creative industries, 90% of those had ten or fewer members of staff and around half had just one member of staff.

The project was set up to help make the region’s creative economy more resilient by sharing academic expertise to enable the sector become more innovative and grow. Importantly, Creative Fuse also supported new collaborations between creative businesses and the broader economy – ideas and approaches from creative practice have stimulated innovation in other sectors, from health and wellbeing, to future cities and ‘big data’.

Now reaching the end of its current phase, around 23 jobs are expected to have been created and at least one organisation has recently received a £100k funding boost.

Principal project investigator Professor Eric Cross, Newcastle University, said: “Creative Fuse has developed in ways that we could not have predicted, and while its main focus has been the creative and digital sector we have had fascinating projects applying creative approaches to other areas included health, data and manufacturing. At its core has been a highly successful collaboration between the North East’s five universities – something that we intend to continue into the future. Many firms had never worked with academics before and some have described the effect on their business as ‘transformative’.

Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the European Regional Development Fund, Arts Council England and the five universities, Creative Fuse included 30 innovation pilots as part of the £4m scheme. It brought together firms and academics from Durham, Newcastle, Northumbria, Sunderland and Teesside Universities, to address industrial, commercial and social challenges.

Northumbria University provided a fully-funded support package, called Get Ready to Innovate, to SMEs and registered sole traders, through which they received twelve hours of action-focused intervention. The aim of these sessions is to help SMEs and sole traders to develop their potential for innovation and increase their understanding of how to overcome barriers and challenges using a design-led approach. The participating businesses represented a diverse selection of the North East’s Creative, Digital and IT sector with participants including a legal aid firm, fashion and textiles businesses, a fund management company, DJs, theatre makers and other social  enterprises.

For more information about Creative Fuse please click here




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