Innovation advice on offer in County Durham

SMALL businesses are being offered the chance to learn from those who came before them as part of a new initiative being run in the North East.

The Product Development Academy is a professional development programme aimed at SMEs in the North East who want to make the most of their innovative ideas, and the application process is now open.

20 North East companies will be selected to take part in the programme, which will consist of a series of workshops, webinars, clinics and insights delivered over 18 months lead by experts from around the world.

The academy will focus on three main topics – innovation management, creating and dealing with ideas, and managing a portfolio of products and services. The companies taking part will be notified at the end of June, and the programme will start in September.

Small and medium sized companies in the North East of England developing new products and technologies are being encouraged to apply for the academy, as the deadline for submissions is June 11. After the application process is completed, 20 companies will be selected based on their ability to benefit from the programme.

The academy is being offered as part of the services of NETPark Net, County Durham’s virtual science park which operates from NETPark in Sedgefield.

Catherine Johns, Innovation Director at NETPark, said: “It’s been estimated that more than 70% of new products fail in their market place. The Product Innovation Academy is a way for selected companies to improve their sustainability and profitability by making better product choices. Every company has a structured manufacturing process but having a structured innovation process can make the difference between a good product and a great product.

“NETPark Net has always been at the heart of driving innovation for the North East, and we’re looking forward to working with more up-and-coming companies as they take part in the academy.”

The various workshops, seminars, and clinics on the programme will be delivered by Darlington-based Pure Insight.

Mark Illman of Pure Insight said: “The academy is a great opportunity for the participating organisations to improve their innovation capability. The faculty of experts we have on hand will be a fantastic aid to the knowledge transfer process, and we already have an archive of seminars and material ready so that the selected companies can hit the ground running in September.”

More information about the academy can be found online at

Companies wanting to take part must be members of NETPark Net. For more information on joining NETPark Net, go to

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