TECH leaders across the North-East are being urged to join an online summit later this month in a bid to tackle the region's gap in innovation funding.

The "critical issue" for the North-East, where funding and research and development (R&D) opportunities fall short of the rest of the country.

A Nesta report in May highlighted a gap of £1.6 billion that is needed in the North to rebalance national spend on R&D.

An earlier report, from Beauhurst in 2017, showed the North-East received less than 4 per cent of the total innovation grant and equity funding available.

The Innovation SuperNetwork, which is running the event on September 29, says this is a major concern for tech SMEs and other sectors.

It hopes to drive the agenda by bringing policy makers together with investors, fund managers and other businesses.

Estelle Blanks, Innovation SuperNetwork executive director, said: “The pandemic had an untold and ongoing impact on global economies, at the same time as we prepare to leave the EU.

"The pipeline of innovative businesses in the North-East is stronger than ever and the volume of innovation taking place has only increased as firms pivot in response to coronavirus.

"Whilst this is good news, the funding landscape against which businesses in the North-East are supported to innovate is substantially underfunded.

“Whilst there is substantial opportunity for, and appetite from, equity investors to work with regional start-ups and growing innovative businesses, the innovation funding gap remains a huge issue for regional economies.

"The Accelerating Investment and Innovation Summit is designed to raise a voice about these challenges and opportunities.”

The network says its summit will take a collaborative approach to securing finance for business and cement the region as a place of opportunity.

Confirmed speakers include Dr. Henry Kippin, Director of Economic Growth at the North of Tyne Combined Authority; Director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, Henri Murison; seasoned Angel Investor, Meganne Houghton-Berry; and Henry Whorwood, Head of Research and Consultancy at investment insight and analytics firm Beauhurst.

The summit will close with a pitch event exclusively for North-East SMEs, getting them in front of national and regional investors.

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