Innovation in Manufacturing: Funding & Support Marketplace

Teaming-up with the Engineering Employers Federation (EEF), VentureFest North East is shining a spotlight on manufacturing at this year’s event, giving businesses the chance to reduce costs, improve productivity and develop new market opportunities.

Responding directly to the needs of regional manufacturing businesses, the strand of activity has been developed with the aim of providing tangible opportunities for manufacturers and engineers.

What to expect: The Marketplace will bring together manufacturers and businesses from the support infrastructure to facilitate new connections and business opportunities. Not only will businesses leave with new connections and opportunity for collaboration, we’re also providing a simple road-map to the support and funding available to manufacturing businesses.

The session includes peer case studies and as part of the marketplace, hosts from across the innovation support and manufacturing industry, including: SAM, Supply Chain North East, Knowledge Transfer Network, Reece Innovation, Digital Catapult, GX Project. 

The GX Project is led by NewcastleGateshead Initiative and delivered in partnership with the Innovation SuperNetwork. It provides a range of opportunities to North East SMEs and scaleups before, during and after the Great Exhibition of the North, including the ‘Emerging Tech’ series. The ‘Emerging Tech in Advanced Manufacturing‘ workshop is being delivered via the Funding and Support Marketplace at VentureFest North East 2018.


Funding & Support Marketplace handout

Peer Case Studies

Simone Stuart-Cole

Reece Innovation - CHAIR

Simone has a background in physics, with a PhD from the University of Leeds and research experience across a diverse range of sectors including advanced materials, nanomaterials and high performance coatings. She currently heads up the Innovation Support Services at Reece Innovation, managing a team of proposal writers and project managers to ensure that clients’ projects have the highest chance of success. She has extensive experience of working with a range of organisations including SMEs, multinational companies and universities, at all stages of the innovation lifecycle, and is particularly skilled at securing public funding for innovative R&D projects.

Damian Cook

Martel Instruments

Damian has spent 25 years getting growth and innovation off the ground in companies from one person in size to large multi-nationals such as Honeywell, Draeger and Parker Hannifin. Under his leadership, employees have applied for over one hundred patents, design registrations and published trade journal articles.

He has taken groups through industry-recognised assessment programmes such as ‘Great Place to Work’ and ‘MX Awards’, the latter earning the overall national winners award in the product and process innovation category.

Sophie Craggs

Digital Catapult

Sophie is Programme Engagement Manager at Digital Catapult NETV currently focusing on the recently launched digital manufacturing programme. Engaging local manufacturers, Sophie is working to encourage the adoption of emerging technology in one of the region’s largest sectors by designing bespoke workshops and facilitating expert consultancy.

Sophie has supported the delivery of targeted training, facilitated residential events around the Internet of Things, and regularly works with SMEs to share her knowledge of emerging technologies and how adoption can improve performance and productivity.

Steve Erdal


Steve Erdal is a Director of Wordnerds, a tech startup that uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Advanced Linguistics to teach computers how to understand humans through automated analysis of written text.

Wordnerds was born out of an open innovation event at Nissan, to show how language understanding could make a difference to design, QA and a range of other manufacturing challenges.