Headlines: April 9th, 2001

A new initiative by the regional development agency (RDA) for the North East aims to make innovation a routine feature of business life. The North East Innovation Strategy and Action Plan 2001 provides a framework aimed at accelerating the creation, acquisition, and application of knowledge, skills and new technologies by businesses in the region.The goal is to embed the concept of innovation into the business plan of every North East company – encouraging them to prioritise the fast-tracking of innovative ideas through to product development.

An Innovation Management Team from One NorthEast (the RDA), is to lead, manage and monitor the progress of the strategy. Grant awards from an Innovation Action Fund will be available for companies identifying opportunities for innovative projects.

The scheme also recognises the role that schools can play in providing future innovators. The RDA is already working with the Young Foresight pilot schools in Pennywell, Stanley and Newcastle upon Tyne, on a project looking at products and services for the future.

The One NorthEast launch coincides with the Government’s announcement for extra funds into higher education to prompt innovation.The Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF) worth 140m pounds over three years will build on universities’ potential as drivers of economic growth. The fund absorbs some previous similar funds but triples overall innovation funding available, following extra money added as a result of the 2000 spending review.