The role of innovation in recovery

Alan Welby, Innovation Director at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), explains how businesses can continue to support the response to COVID-19 in the North East

Early in the coronavirus pandemic, government asked how businesses might be able to help with the response to coronavirus (COVID-19). How did the North East region respond?

During this hugely difficult and unpredictable time for everyone, we saw large numbers of businesses, nationally and here in the North East, stepping forward to help front line services.

We’ve seen manufacturing businesses move quickly to re-align their activity to manufacture personal protective equipment (PPE), sanitiser and ventilators.

Here in the North East, firms have offered the use of their transport and logistics facilities, and laboratory spaces. Newcastle University has also worked with the Royal Navy to transport seven of its qPCR machines to the NHS in Milton Keynes, which will be used to help process thousands of samples from people suspected of having the virus.

What role does innovation play in economic recovery from the pandemic?

All parts of the economy are affected by this crisis and businesses of all shapes and sizes are being forced to do things differently. Our usual ways of working are being challenged on a daily basis and as a result we are seeing new ways of collaborating and new solutions to the challenges that COVID-19 is bringing.

Innovation is about coping with change, and this situation is forcing us all to change and adapt. Innovation is more important than ever and it will continue to be important in the post-COVID environment – we won’t be doing things in the same way anymore and innovation will be at the centre of future-proofing our economy.

The PPE toolkit on the North East Growth Hub provides information and support for businesses that want to produce and supply PPE. Visit