We want to be a part of positive change

The Rural Design Centre Innovation Project is a collaboration between Advance Northumberland, Innovation SuperNetwork and Northumbria University, and will take advantage of the expertise of each entity to help organisations deliver real tangible change in our communities.

People in discussion standing around a desk of work


We will use our networks from across the region to enable you to work alongside the right experts, enabling new products and services to be developed and tested in the communities they are meant to help.

Challenges like these tend to require thinking from different perspectives and fields of expertise. This means bringing together people from rural communities, a range of businesses and organisations from across multiple sectors and researchers to work with the people we will be supporting and helping them to come up with ground-breaking ideas.

The objectives of this project

The aim of this project is to support small and medium sized enterprises as they identify opportunities and develop solutions to challenges facing rural communities.

We want to increase the number of small and medium organisations developing new products and services and will support them as they identify the key challenges and develop appropriate solutions through innovation.

Through investigative work during each challenge products and/or services will be developed efficiently and effectively, taking guidance from the project team along the way.

Throughout the development phase, support will be tailored to the needs of each organisation so that they can make the most of every step they take.

We will offer support to 150 small and medium organisations in their endeavours to make meaningful change in Rural communities in the North East region.

Part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the England European Structural and Investment Fund Programme 2014-20 and part-funded by the North Of Tyne Combined Authority, we will be investing in a wide and varied range of businesses so that they have the resources to investigate issues faced by rural communities.

We will support these organisations each and every step of the way in the work they do to bring solutions to these issues to fruition.

The rural areas this project will help

We are interested in helping as many rural communities as we can. If you think that you live and/or work in an area we could support, then please get in touch and you can discuss this with the team.

We are currently working with communities in;

  • Haltwhistle
  • Haydon Bridge
  • Wooler
  • Berwick

And we look forward to broadening our reach over the lifetime of this project.

How we will support your organisation

We will provide your organisation with the necessary support to develop solution concepts into viable products and services.

You will meet with our Business Advisor who will ensure that you are funnelled into the right challenge(s) and then our Design Associates will ensure that the right representatives from intermediary organisations, trade bodies and relevant industry experts are involved in the development of your ideas.

The support that you receive will enable you to discuss the viability of your solutions with industry experts and to apply for grant support to develop a ‘minimum viable product’ version of your idea, enabling your organisation to develop and test your new product or service with the ultimate aim of bringing it to the market.

You may choose to utilise the grant support available for the commercial launch, identifying and protecting intellectual property or other aspects as required. The project team will be able to support you to understand the most appropriate route for you.

You will receive a minimum of 12 hours of fully funded support whilst undertaking the Innovation Challenge, and also support with applying for the grant should you choose to do so.

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Registering for the project

Your first step is to complete the registration form within this site.

The registration form will ask you a number of questions about your organisation. This is so that we can ascertain your eligibility but also so that we can tailor the support that you go on to receive. We expect the registration to take approximately 15 minutes to complete.

Reception Area of The Rivergreen Centre, Stannington, Morpeth

More information about the Rural Design Centre

Delivered from The Rivergreen Centre in Stannington, Morpeth, the Rural Design Centre Innovation Project is one strand of a range of work being delivered by the Rural Design Centre.

If you would like to understand more about the wider work being undertaken by the Rural Design Centre to support rural communities head over to their website.

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