The Inspire Gateshead scheme has received £525,000 from the European Regional Development Fund’s Competitiveness Programme 2007-13, with the remaining finance coming from the council’s Working Neighbourhood Fund.
Local entrepreneurs, especially those from disadvantaged areas, will be encouraged to start their own companies under the initiative, while existing small firms will be offered a range of support services.
Mick Henry, the leader of Gateshead Council, explains: ‘We will enhance our offer to small and medium-sized businesses by improving access to specialist support through four business incubation units. This tailored element of specialist support will create new SMEs and jobs.’
Lesley Calder, head of European and skills strategy at regional development agency One North East, reveals that the scheme will involve bringing workshops and enterprise events to the local community.
Recently, £2.4 million was made available to small firms in the north-east through the Innovation Vouchers project, which aims to build links between businesses and academic institutions.