A £1.1m project being launched by Northumbria University will see the start-up of 30 new North East businesses during the next year and a half.
The Northumbria Graduates into Business project is set to create 60 permanent jobs by June 2015. It will also see interns being provided for 55 North East SMEs, with the university contributing up to 50% of their salary costs.
Around half the funding for the ambitious project has come from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
The grant was then matched by the university and a number of other funding providers.
Through the scheme, current students, as well as recent graduates, will receive support to start new businesses, while it is hoped the university’s interns will bring new skills, knowledge and approaches to local firms, helping develop their workforces and improve performance.
Supporting graduate start-ups is firmly embedded in the ethos of Northumbria, recently named the fourth best university in the UK for doing so.
Over the past five years, it has aided the development of more than 100 graduate companies, which now employ almost 800 staff and have a combined turnover of £54m.
While most are based in the North East, they are trading nationally and internationally.
Northumbria’s Careers and Employment Service also enjoyed huge success when it piloted an internship scheme last year that saw 81% of the interns being permanently recruited by their employers at the end of the placement.
The ERDF funding will enable the university to increase the volume of activity it can support.
Lucy Winskell, pro vice-chancellor for business and engagement, said: “Universities play a vital role in contributing towards economic regeneration through the creation and application of innovation and new knowledge.
“We are committed to working with businesses to improve their productivity and performance. Our recent rating as the fourth best university in the country for supporting graduate start-up businesses is recognition of our successes in this area.
“The ERDF award to further develop this activity is a clear indicator of the quality and calibre of our students and the support we provide to them and to businesses. We look forward to working with more SMEs and supporting the creation of new businesses and jobs in the region.”
Northumbria University works with more than 560 employers and 60 professional bodies to help provide graduates with skills needed by businesses. It is also working with the Federation of Small Businesses and the North East Social Enterprise Partnership.
For more information on how to access the Northumbria Graduates into Business project, visit www.northumbria.ac.uk/graduatesintobusiness