Small businesses and social enterprises across the Tees Valley are invited to compete for a total of £325,000 worth of funding to unlock innovation potential.

The Tees Valley Business Challenge innovation strand, led by Edge Innovation as part of a Tees Valley Business programme, aims to create opportunities, accelerate growth, and showcase the expertise and versatility of the area’s supply chain.

It will initially provide a £5,000 grant to each of 20 selected small businesses to develop their concept and undertake feasibility studies to solve one of five challenges set by major organisations. Then solution providers will each pitch for a further £45,000 of funding per challenge to make their prototype a reality.

It is designed to accelerate innovation opportunities within the Tees Valley and encourage local businesses to develop and grow, further stimulating economic development.

Procter & Gamble, AV Dawson, NEA, North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust, and St John Ambulance are setting the challenges to solve an issue within the following areas: process and manufacturing, digital transformation, social enterprise, healthcare, and wellbeing in the workplace.

The challenge, funded through the government’s Community Renewal Fund, is open to all businesses situated within the Tees Valley area employing less than 250 people. It is being delivered on behalf of the Tees Valley Business by a partnership of innovation specialists Edge Innovation, regional network of NHS trusts AHSN, IT industry cluster Dynamo, process cluster NEPIC and VONNE, the regional network for charities and social enterprises.

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “Right across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool our small businesses are leading the way in ground-breaking products and systems that are helping to create good-quality, well-paid jobs in the industries of the future.

“We need to do all we can to support them, and this challenge will help spur on even more game-changing innovations.

“The problems posed by our challengers look to tackle a range of issues, including decarbonisation and working towards our net zero ambitions, improving efficiencies in our logistics sector and even mental health – an especially important subject after the difficult past two years.

“This challenge will help our brilliant companies scale-up and grow while driving forward the revolutionary work that some of our key sectors such as digital and process and manufacturing are increasingly becoming known for.”

Simon Green, CEO at Edge Innovation, said: “The Tees Valley Business Challenge provides a huge opportunity for small businesses to showcase their skills and expertise whilst at the same time raising their profile and highlighting the strength and versatility of the supply chain

“This challenge encourages business growth and the development of high-quality jobs that will create a more inclusive economy, one capable of contributing to the net zero agenda and driving economic regeneration across the Tees Valley.

“This initiative will support small businesses to turn their ideas into a viable product or service to solve real-life issues. As a result, local small businesses and social enterprises will be able to access new markets and grow.”

As part of the prize, each of the five finalists will also receive intensive business support delivered by Edge Innovation and its partners. In addition, they will be invited to take part in a range of development workshops, including intellectual property, sales and marketing and wellness.

For more information or to enter the Tees Valley Business Challenge visit  to register an Expression of Interest.