Durham University joins three other universities in North East innovation partnership

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Durham University, alongside the Universities of Newcastle, Northumbria, and Sunderland, has launched The Innovating Together – Universities in the North East (In-TUNE) partnership, which will improve business support for local companies and hopes to boost the local economy in the North East.

and North of Tyne Combined Authority (a partnership of the local authorities of Newcastle upon Tyne, North Tyneside, and Northumberland) have donated £4.75 million to the project through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, which was launched in 2022 to invest in local places across the UK.

The UK government allocated £2.6 billion into the Fund, which is said to be “about levelling up people’s pride in the places they love and seeing that reflected back in empowered local leaders and communities, a stronger social fabric and better life chances.”

In-TUNE is another step towards the Levelling Up agenda, a government scheme that started awarding funding in 2021 for transport, cultural, and regeneration projects in local councils across the country.

The partnership will improve local business support in the North East

The project is an expansion of Arrow, Newcastle University’s business support programme, which provides support, research, specialist data, and access to state of the art facilities for new and upcoming businesses.

Arrow is also partly-funded by the UK Shared Prosperity Fund and will be expanded by this combined effort by North Eastern Universities.

A report in October 2022 into the partnership found that the Universities in In-TUNE contributed around £2.2 billion per annum to the North East economy, and created over 30,000 jobs. The project thus aims to increase the accessibility of the world class facilities and innovation support for organisations around County Durham and the North of Tyne Combined Authority area.

The programme supports four pre-existing projects undertaken by universities in the North East: Creative Fuse, a partnership that supported small businesses; Insights North East, which improved links between research and policy in the NHS, Newcastle City Council, and the Universities of Newcastle and Northumbria; Northern Accelerator, a project towards increasing the number and quality of spin-out organisations; and Intensive Industrial Innovation Programme, a partnership in assisting small businesses with long-term research in developing new products.

In the 2022 report, it was stated that 1,034 small businesses were already being supported by the partnership, with a target of 1,535.

Durham University has also invested £1.5 million from Research England into an Enterprise Zone, where student start-ups, technical firms, and University spin outs are able to access research, knowledge, and support.

“We are also ambitious to do more, and we are looking forward to building on these successful programmes”

Richard Baker

Richard Baker, Director of Economic Development and Commercialisation at Durham University, said that: “Our universities are one of the North East’s great strengths. Each university is distinctive and makes significant individual contributions locally and regionally.

“We are also ambitious to do more, and we are looking forward to building on these successful programmes through In-TUNE to achieve more together.”

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