Businesses in the Wear region exploring manufacturing innovations are to get support from the UK European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

The newly-launched PROSPECT funding programme, based in County Durham, is aimed at helping small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the North-East across a wide range of sectors and will be run by CPI – an independent technology innovation centre and founding member of the UK Government’s High Value Manufacturing Catapult.

The PROSPECT programme will offer local SMEs product and process development support to fast-track thE often lengthy and underfunded journey of introducing new, innovative products to market.

This fully-funded programme is designed to support SMEs within, or seeking to access, the health and personal care, consumer goods, chemicals, materials, and food and drink sectors to enhance prototyping, scale-up, and applications of their technology.

The idea is that accessing expert services such as the ones through the PROSPECT programme help to overcome technical and financial barriers, enabling these regional sectors to compete in an international market and drive future economic growth in the North East.

SMEs will be able to access the PROSPECT suite of equipment and knowledge at NETpark in Sedgefield, County Durham.

This includes highly skilled scientists and access to liquid mixing test rigs and scale-up facilities, complex powder processing facilities and a stability testing rig.

These can help SMEs to significantly reduce product and process development timelines.

Supported by ERDF funding and equipment, CPI will also provide relevant business expertise, in-depth understanding and tailored advice to accelerate product performance, manufacturability and ultimately, commercialisation.

With an end date of November 2022, the programme will run over the next two years, helping SMEs with less than 250 staff and an annual turnover of under 50 million euros.

Tony Jackson, formulation director at CPI, said: “The PROSPECT programme will provide some of the country’s most inventive SMEs with the crucial funding, expertise and equipment to develop their innovative products.

“I am looking forward to seeing how this programme can unlock the bright potential of SMEs, in the North East, over the coming years.”



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