A Group of North East-based firms have been selected to deliver an online service designed to help companies in the region grow.
Software specialist Escher Group, which operates a Newcastle office, has been appointed by the North East LEP to deliver the Growth Hub which will bring together data and information on business support in the region.
Escher will work with Gateshead-based business support publishers Cobweb Information which will curate the content for the hub, while The Roundhouse, a Newcastle-based design and digital consultancy, will design the hub’s interface.
The Growth Hub forms part of the North East LEP’s Strategic Economic plan and is being developed with £500,000 backing from the Government’s Local Growth Fund.
Its remit is to help North East-based small and medium sized businesses to access and navigate all levels of support from local and national to public and private sector.
The North East LEP has also promised it will help start-ups and private sector business intermediaries such as bank managers, accountants and consultants.
Paul Woolston, North East LEP chair, said: “Launching the Growth Hub is one of our key aims to help new and growing firms get the help they need quickly and easily.
“This is vital if we want growth in the North East economy to continue powering forward in the way that it has over the past year.
“We have appointed a world class software specialist in Escher Group to help us deliver this hub, a real milestone in the development of a resource all businesses can use to navigate swiftly to the help they need. Working with local delivery partners Cobweb Information and The Roundhouse provides a firm footing in the North East.”
Steve Blanks, head of operations for Escher Group in the North East, added: “We are delighted to be working with the North East LEP along with the region’s stakeholder and business community to develop the North East Growth Hub.
“We are passionate about building a digital ecosystem that will connect the region’s businesses to the relevant support to not only help them grow, but make a vital contribution to the LEP’s strategy of creating more and better jobs in the North East.
“We believe that through a collaborative approach, we will be able to develop an exemplar platform for other growth hubs within the UK.”
The hub will put users in touch with advisors who can offer help by email or phone and will also facilitate networking between businesses.
It will promote the sharing of information and peer-to-peer mentoring through online community forums and will provide a diary of events, briefings, seminars, conferences and networking opportunities.
Marianne Whitfield, managing director of Cobweb Information, said: “Cobweb is delighted to be working with Escher to help deliver the North East Growth Hub.
“We’re looking forward to liaising with all the partners involved to ensure that the content on the hub is up to date, relevant and accurate and of the highest possible quality.”
Jason Longworth, account director at The Roundhouse, added: “We’re thrilled to be involved in the design and development of a new digital destination for the North East.
“Our priorities are to create a platform which is user friendly, works across devices, delivers information efficiently and makes it easy for people across the regional business community to connect.”