In her position as Innovation Adviser, Debbie will work with entrepreneurs and businesses of all sizes and sectors right across the region who want to use innovation to unlock their growth potential.
And Debbie is excited by the opportunity to encourage more regional businesses to explore innovation by simplifying the process and raising awareness of the generous financial incentives available to businesses via the BIC’s North East SME Innovation Programme.
Debbie said: “My aim is to make innovation less daunting for businesses so they can enjoy it for the exciting process that it actually is. People sometimes mistakenly think innovation is all about mad professors and is reserved for the scientists among us when in fact it’s just about doing something different in your business.
“That could be developing new software, a new product or process – basically designing something that cannot be bought elsewhere to solve a problem or satisfy a gap in the market. In my new role I can help businesses to use innovation to create products, improve operations or to commercialise their innovation and take it to market.”
Debbie will draw on her vast experience of the enterprise sector, working in industry and of running her own business to connect businesses to the networks and know-how they need to innovate. She also helps businesses access the 40 percent grant funding that is available for innovation from the European Regional Development Fund.
Debbie added: “We have a huge bank of suppliers and contacts who are innovation specialists and we can use these to dramatically accelerate business’s plans.
“There are strict procurement guidelines but I can help businesses to navigate their way through these and maximise all of the support and funding that is available to help their progress. I’m really excited about playing a part in stimulating innovation in the North East to help companies to grow, creating more and better jobs for the region’s workforce.”
Debbie will be working alongside Gillian Middleton, the BIC’s Innovation Project Manager.
Gillian said: “Innovation has been central to what we do here at the BIC since we launched 25 years ago and we are always looking for new ways to help the region’s businesses to push the boundaries of what they do.
“The North East SME Innovation Programme has been a brilliant way of delivering this support over the past three years and I’m looking forward to working with Debbie to reach even more companies with our service. We’d urge any businesses reading this to get in touch with us to discuss their innovation plans so we can help speed up the process, while reducing the cost.”
The North East Business and Innovation Centre (BIC) has received £820,439 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund for the SME Innovation Programme as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.