Durham Future Innovation Building Project

Delivered by Business Durham

This is an intensive innovation and design thinking programme for County Durham SMEs who would like to innovate in either products, processes, or service transformation areas to address challenges within their businesses.

Challenges may come from the external environment to address areas of change, such as the green economy and net zero, which may affect their current business offer. They may seek new economies and markets, product extensions, product and service transformations, step changes, new process developments and more, within the construction and health sectors and their supply chains, and across all sectors where enabling technologies and Elec-tech can be applied. 

Following rigorous assessments and changes, innovations may lead to increased productivity, growth, resilience, and an innovative mindset.

What is on offer?

Businesses will gain a new fresh perspective on creativity and design and where they can apply positive changes in your business. They will receive design thinking training, data and technology knowledge, and IP and markets research to ensure the innovation will succeed. They will have access to a range of workshops from ideation to commercialisation. 

  • Masterclasses and workshops – Workshops and masterclasses will be advertised throughout the programme and businesses can attend at any stage.
  • Action plans – Supporting innovation thinking and feeding ideas for future directions.
  • Ecosystems – Regular networking events to encourage collaboration, learning and ideas creation.


Eligible businesses will receive 12 hours of free innovation training, mentoring, and access to sector specific ecosystems to support knowledge towards activating their innovation. Businesses will develop an action plan, whilst they attend training workshops and masterclasses.  After completing 12 hours of training and mentoring, businesses will be able to submit their action plans to a panel, to be considered for funding.

SMEs can apply for an external R&D grant which is match funded for 10-50k, to support an expert in the development of the innovation. The grant will enable businesses to access experts regionally or beyond to support the development of their innovation and develop a research and development project timeline to complete the innovation before July 2023.

SMEs can apply for an internal capacity grant to support an expert to be embedded within the business for 6 months, paying pro rata minimum of 25k with a £6250 grant to support the internal innovation.  Eligible businesses can apply for one or both grants to support their ideas and action plans.

Businesses will be supported with advice and information, and they will be directed to other sources of support within Business Durham, and further networks of support regionally or nationally.


To apply for the programme businesses must be SMEs based in County Durham and satisfy ERDF rules.

How to apply

Email: DFIB@durham.gov.uk

Find out more information at Durham Future Innovation Building Project – Business Durham

Closing date

There will be a series of workshops and masterclasses held until July 2023 for cohorts interested in any of the sectors covered in the programme. Grant applications can be submitted until July 2023. 

To find out about when each series commences please email the Innovation Engagement Officer at DFIB@durham.gov.uk.

Find out more