North East summit planned in bid to ramp up region’s innovation levels

A summit will be held in the North East later this month with the aim of boosting levels of innovation among the region’s business community.

The Accelerating Investment and Innovation Summit will bring national policy makers together with regional businesses, investors, fund manager and corporates.

The event, which is being organised by the Innovation SuperNetwork, also aims to give selected SMEs the chance to pitch to regional and national investors through the Newcastle Angel Hub.

It comes after a report called for urgent action to address a growing gap between innovation and the funding needed to commercialise it.

Estelle Blanks, executive director at the Innovation SuperNetwork said: “The pandemic has had an untold and ongoing impact on global economies, and at the same time UK industry is preparing to leave the EU.

“The pipeline of innovative businesses in the North East is stronger than ever, and the volume of innovation taking place has only increased as companies pivot in response to coronavirus. Whilst this is good news, the funding landscape against which businesses in the North East are supported to innovate is substantially underfunded.”

Last month the Future of Growth Capital report published by Innovate Finance, the ScaleUp Institute and Deloitte called for urgent action to close the UK’s growth capital gap.

Separately, a study by analytics firm Beauhurst suggested that the North East receives less than 4% of the total innovation grant and equity funding available in the UK.

The online summit will take place on September 29, with speakers including Henry Kippin, director of economic growth at the North of Tyne Combined Authority; Henri Murison, director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership; angel investor Meganne Houghton-Berry; and Henry Whorwood, head of research and consultancy at investment insight and analytics firm Beauhurst.

The summit comes after work by the SuperNetwork and other organisations to set up a Regional Angel Investment Accelerator, which supported angel investment into seven businesses in the North, including Durham-based Evince.

Jordan Dargue, access to finance manager at Innovation SuperNetwork, said: “Innovate UK gave us £1m to support Angel investment in Innovative North businesses. The project was supposed to run for two years, but the demand from investors and the quality of businesses coming out of the North means we have been able to fulfil the entire grant spend in less than half the allotted project time.

“We now need to work with Innovate UK, the investor network, and the businesses themselves to ensure they can secure the finance they need.

“This remains a challenge, but we’re hoping that by hosting the summit, which has both a national emphasis and a remit to promote regional growth, we can move the conversation forward in terms of ensuring adequate amounts of Innovation funding are funnelled North.”

More details on the event can be found at https://supernetwork.org.uk/investment-summit/


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