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Sunderland lends expertise to FabLab

Small businesses in Sunderland will benefit from stronger leadership and entrepreneurship skills

It’s all thanks to a Government-backed project led by the University of Sunderland.

Having been selected as an anchor institution, the University’s LEAP (Leadership & Entrepreneurship Advancing Productivity) programme will work with the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) to pilot new ways to improve productivity by boosting the leadership of small businesses.

Through the leadership and entrepreneurship programme, North East-based micro businesses of up to 50 employees can access the North East’s first FabLab. Part of an international network of similar maker spaces, a FabLab is where people can collaborate and innovate, using the specialist equipment and support available to commercialise new products and services.

Hazel Rounthwaite, Commercial Manager at the University of Sunderland commented: “We’re really pleased to have been chosen as one of only eight successful projects within UKCES’s national UK Futures programme. This is a unique project from the University of Sunderland; we’re looking to work with SMEs from both the manufacturing and creative/cultural sector.”   

“Having the region’s first FabLab as the setting is ideal, it creates the perfect environment for innovation, yet at the same time is really accessible for businesses of all sizes so is inclusive in its approach. The cost for organisations to take part is £500 each and we will be choosing 24 manufacturing organisations and 24 creative / cultural companies to work with from those that apply. The successful organisations should expect to increase their turnover by at least 10% within two years, so it’s definitely worth businesses getting in touch.

The 48 companies selected to work with the University will collaborate to design the programme themselves, in sessions facilitated within the FabLab – the output will then be rolled out to support other SMEs.

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