Innovation Grant Funding Landscape

What is the grant funding landscape for innovative companies in the North East? How do you navigate the Innovation Grants that are available to businesses? Those are the questions that Lee Viney from Innovate UK will be asking delegates as part of this collaborative workshop.

The session will include speakers from the Business Innovation Centre (BIC) Innovation Programme, a discussion and introduction to university elevator pitches, plus Professor Jarek Rosinski from Transmission Dynamics will discuss his own grant funding journey, providing useful pointers based on first-hand experience for delegates.


Lee Viney

Regional Manager at Innovate UK

Lee joined Innovate UK from the Sheffield City Region Combined Authority and Local Enterprise Partnership following a career in public sector economic development. Lee’s experience has been mainly in early stage enterprise development, innovation and commercialisation, with cross policy links into skills, trade and investment and business finance.

Professor Jarek Rosinski

CEO at Transmission Dynamics

Jarek started his career as a lecturer of machine dynamics at the Institute of Mechanics and Vibroacoustics in Krakow. In 2006, after 18 years of service, Jarek left Newcastle University, to pursue wholly his company Transmission Dynamics, which he founded in 1996, and to start a new company, Palringo, with his son Martin.  

JR Dynamics Ltd has grown organically, without external investment as an entirely privately funded company, which provided Jarek with greater freedom to invest in the business for the long term from the outset, but inevitably more gradual, organic, growth. This has proven to be a sound approach, with turnover in the last financial year increasing by 80% to £2.65m with 30% profit. Transmission Dynamics is now heavily investing in IoT, AI and wireless sensor networks, and seeing several significant successes including winning the North East Business Innovation Award in 2017 and the Company of the Year 2018 award on a national scale at the British Engineering Excellence Awards, amongst others. Further success in bidding for Innovate UK funding has led them to be successful in five Innovate UK grants totalling over £2m in UK government funding, with the latest First of a Kind grant for £350k, awarded in June 2019.  

Ben Watts

Innovation & Solutions Director at ENGIE UK & Ireland

Ben is Innovation & Solutions Director at ENGIE UK & Ireland, with responsibility for a progressive programme of innovation, partnerships and external collaboration.  In addition to this role, Ben also undertakes non-executive and advisory activities in the field of low-carbon energy technology and networks, providing a key link between industry and academia.  Prior to his current role with ENGIE, Ben was Managing Director of ENGIE’s Urban Energy sector and has previously worked as an Associate with ARUP.

Earlier this year, ENGIE launched a Clean Growth Innovation Fund in partnership with Innovate UK; an invitation-only programme for UK SMEs to apply for a share of up to £4m for innovative projects.  Successful applicants will receive a combination of grant and investment to cover project costs.  The competition’s aim is to allow organisations to form investment partnerships at an early stage, accelerating the zero-carbon transition. To do this, ENGIE and Innovate UK are bringing together:

  • Innovate UK’s expertise in identifying promising innovations and using funding to materially change their risk profiles
  • ENGIE’s expertise in identifying commercial and customer focused opportunities from the results-driven management teams, that are most likely to grow and make the best use of extra investment finance

Gillian Middleton

Innovation Project Manager at the North East Business and Innovation Centre (BIC)

Gillian leads the SME Innovation Programme at the BIC which supports North East businesses to grow through Innovation, providing grant funding and advice to encourage investment in the development of new products and services. She also runs her own business coaching and training company and is passionate about helping businesses start, succeed and grow.

During her long career in business support Gillian has worked with pre-start, post-start and existing businesses advising, coaching, mentoring and supporting businesses with their business and workforce development needs.  She also regularly works with a charity and a CIC to support their business development and growth strategy.

Chris Angus

Programme Manager, Newcastle University's Arrow Programme

Chris Angus manages Newcastle University’s Arrow programme. Chris’s background is in research and development, having worked in novel technologies and new product development in the gas industry. He has also worked extensively in business process improvement, designing and leading improvement programmes with SMEs, corporates and public sector organisations.

Arrow matches academics, innovators and North East SMEs to speed up innovation and reduce the cost and risk of developing new products, processes and services. We provide bespoke, intensive and flexible research and innovation support from Newcastle University’s world leading researchers and academics. The programme is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund and provides fully funded support to eligible SMEs.

Ian Blakemore

Knowledge Transfer Adviser at KTN Ltd

A highly experienced senior manager having worked in the public and private sectors in established organisations and start-ups in manufacturing, business development and culture change & reform. With over 20 years in the university / industrial interface supporting businesses at all stages, Ian is now a Knowledge Transfer Adviser for KTN Ltd and part of a national team delivering services to drive innovation for a wide range of organisations including Innovate UK.

Peter Chalder-Wood

Senior Business Development Manager at Durham University

Peter Chalder-Wood is a Senior Business Development Manager at Durham University. He has 25 years’ experience in new product development and technology commercialisation. His role is identifying opportunities and developing projects that enable companies and industry to work with Durham University on key UK industrial strategy developments – Clean Growth, Artificial Intelligence, Data Science, etc.