A North East business support organisation is investing in its own future development by moving into larger bespoke office space.
Innovation Supernetwork is using a £24,000 investment from the North East Small Loan Fund Supported By The European Regional Development Fund to support its move into new premises within the North East Business & Innovation Centre (BIC) on the Wearfield Enterprise Park in Sunderland.
The Small Loan Fund investment was secured through regional fund management firm NEL Fund Managers, and will also enable the organisation and its clients to make better use of the BIC’s new Innovation Zone business incubator and co-working space.
Founded in 2015, Innovation Supernetwork was designed as a way of inspiring innovation across the regional business community.
It is responsible for creating and managing a range of successful business support and entrepreneurial initiatives, including VentureFest North East, Finance Camp, Women In Innovation, Innovation Challenge and the North East Innovation Awards.
It also seeks to connect regional SMEs with larger businesses that need the services that they provide to address their operational needs and aims to help these growing small firms find outside investment.
Innovation Supernetwork currently has 14 members of staff, but is looking to bring in a number of new innovation managers to run its growing range of programmes and ensuring it had the space available to accommodate them was part of the rationale for the move.
Simon Green, CEO at Innovation Supernetwork, says: “We already work closely with the BIC team and this move will strengthen the ways in which we can co-operate in the future.
“The new space is more in keeping with the collaborative nature of the work that we do and more reflective of our brand, while having access to the Innovation Zone will help to stimulate creativity and inspire new ideas for ourselves and the growing firms with which we work.
“We’re growing ourselves and the new space also gives us room for the new recruits that we’re looking to bring in in the coming months, as well as access to meeting rooms and useful event space.
“We’ve previously helped connect NEL with other growing North East businesses and when it came to looking at raising investment capital for ourselves, it seemed like a natural option to talk to them.”
Part of the £120m North East Fund and aimed predominantly at smaller SMEs, the £9m North East Small Loan Fund typically offers loans of between £10,000 and £50,000 to businesses in Tyne & Wear, Durham and Northumberland.
It is designed to assist with the creation of over 1,200 new regional jobs in more than 320 SMEs over the life of the fund.
Jonathan Armitage, investment executive at NEL Fund Managers, adds: “Innovation Supernetwork is the catalyst for a huge amount of business innovation and success across and beyond the North East.
“The facilities and infrastructure that they’re now putting in place will have a substantial positive impact on both Innovation Supernetwork’s future progress and the wider regional economy.”
The overarching North East Fund will provide financial support for more than 600 businesses, creating around 3,500 jobs and delivering a legacy of up to £80m for further investment into the region.
NEL is also responsible for investing the £18m North East Growth Capital Fund, which offers unsecured investments of up to £500,000 to established businesses looking to realise their growth potential.
For more information about NEL’s investment criteria, visit www.nel.co.uk or contact the investment team on 0345 369 7007.