The last few categories in our first BUSINESSiQ Awards are being snapped up by leading businesses across the North East, and we are so proud to announce that Innovation SuperNetwork will now be joining us on April 28 at Ramside Hall to present an award to the outstanding New Business of the Year.

The Innovation SuperNetwork has been providing specialist support to companies across the North East for more than seven years, helping more than 1,200 businesses bring new innovations to market, access appropriate finance, or improve their own practice and outcomes.

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CEO Estelle Blanks said the event was a chance to celebrate success.

"The region is packed with entrepreneurial talent, so we were keen to extend our support to the BUSINESSiQ Awards as a way of celebrating the creativity, drive and success of North East businesses," she said.

The Northern Echo: Join us on April 28thJoin us on April 28th (Image: Press release)

The event at Ramside Hall on April 28th will be hosted by Alfie Joey and will feature a keynote speech from Dragons' Den star Sara Davies. It will be a night to remember as we applaud outstanding performances from businesses across the North East in a range of categories, including Training and Skills, Net Zero and, of course, Innovation SuperNetwork's New Business of the Year.

Estelle said: "Innovation is at the heart of every new business creation, and it’s important that we see an increase in the region’s business base if we want to compete on a national, and even international, platform. The entrepreneurial spirit of founders knows no bounds and it’s the ambition, excitement and potential we see in these start-ups that made this category stand out for us.

The Northern Echo: Venturefest has become a vital part of the business sceneVenturefest has become a vital part of the business scene (Image: Press release)

"Events like the BUSINESSiQ Awards are incredibly important as a way of celebrating success and showcasing the breadth of business excellence in the region. For the North East to thrive and grow, we need platforms to tell our stories. Awards and platforms like BUSINESSiQ are an important part of this narrative.

"We’re entering 2023 with cautious optimism and the promise of potential. Across the business support landscape there a number of organisations promoting funding available for specific support or grants.

"For businesses who have come out of 2022 having weathered a challenging number of months, emerging from covid into a cost of living crisis and economic uncertainty, our advice would be to seize these opportunities. Speak with the range of business support services on offer and identify the support that will help them get 2023 off to a positive and ambitious start."

Estelle said the Innovation SuperNetwork would be working hard this year to increase opportunities for businesses eager to grow.

She told us: "We have a number of key priorities for 2023, all of which boil down to one overarching objective, and that is to enable inclusive and sustainable economic growth for the region by delivering tangible opportunities for businesses.

The Northern Echo: Panellists at VentureFest North EastPanellists at VentureFest North East (Image: Press release)

"If we were to focus on three key areas, these would include VentureFest North East – our flagship innovation conference.

"Now in its 10th year, the event takes place on 10th May 2023 and brings together a mix of inspirational key notes and real-world opportunities for delegates to innovate, celebrate their achievements and collaborate. This year’s theme will focus on – Our Future, Now – highlighting innovations changing the way we live and solving the challenges posing the highest risk to society, including meeting our net zero goals.

"We also have plans to grow our work to improve the access to finance journey for businesses seeking investment. We’ll be building on activity to date to understand the barriers facing companies, at all stages of growth, seeking equity.

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"Our activity will ensure the companies we work with can both ‘sell’ their offer with impact and gain access to regional, national – and where appropriate global – investors, networks and funds.

"Finally, we will accelerate our work with key regional clusters. Through our Digital Cluster Development and Catalysing Innovation in NE Clusters projects, we will provide support to businesses who want to do more in these sectors, or innovate with the latest technology and digital solutions.

"Our focus here is to also work with industry to bring together a critical mass of cross-sector organisations that can enable sectoral growth, and bring about more opportunities for businesses."