Chance for 45 North East businesses to be supported through innovative PhD student programme

Eligible small and medium businesses (SMEs) can now apply to be supported by a dedicated PhD research student as part of a three-year programme between four North East universities.

Up to 45 SMEs will be supported by the Intensive Industrial Innovation Programme (IIIP) which is a partnership between Durham, Newcastle, Northumbria and Teesside universities. It pairs SMEs with a dedicated PhD student to develop new products and services for the market.

IIIP is currently supporting 36 businesses across the North East, from companies in Northumberland down to businesses in Billingham, Teesside, with PhD students working on research projects that work towards solving industry challenges.

The ultimate aim of the IIIP is to encourage a culture of innovation that benefits business, leading to greater export opportunities and increased graduate employment, particularly in science and engineering.

Jenny Taylor, Head of Economic Development at Durham University, said:

“Thirty-six businesses from across the North East are already benefitting from the IIIP and we really want to see eligible SMEs apply for the second phase of this unique programme.

“The programme gives eligible SMEs access to a dedicated PhD student as well as senior university academics and research facilities.

“This is a great chance for local businesses and researchers to work together to enhance business growth and support innovation with the aim of encouraging longer-term high quality job creation in the region.”

The three-year programme, led by Durham University, is supported by £2m from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), with additional funding coming from the four partner universities.

The project is targeted at priority sectors identified in the economic plans of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership and Tees Valley Combined Authority.

Sectors include creative, digital, software and technology-based services; healthcare and health innovation; energy; manufacturing and logistics.

Eligible SMEs can apply until midday on Monday 30 April 2019 by contacting SMEs will be chosen via selection process. More information can be found at

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