A North East skincare start-up that won legions of fans in homes and hospitals around the UK during the pandemic is preparing for global growth in 2021.

Nursem was created by husband-and-wife team Jonny and Antonia Philp who worked with nurses to develop a skincare range to help combat the effects of relentless hand washing. The idea was born as a solution to a regular problem experienced by Antonia, who’d often come home from her work as a paediatric nurse with sore and cracked hands.

The Newcastle-based company launched with high street giant in Boots in 2019 but co-founder Jonny said it was an introduction made by their Innovation Manager Gillian Middleton at the North East Business and Innovation Centre (BIC) that made the business a household name this year.

Nursem worked with Gillian via the BIC’s Innovation Programme, securing funding to get through the final product testing needed to get their product to market. And Gillian was so impressed by the company and its promise to provide a month’s worth of free Nursem to a nurse or midwife for every product sold, she introduced them to programme makers of the BBC’s The Customer is Always Right series.

Jonny explained: “Gillian went well beyond the remit of what we were expecting when we applied to the Innovation Programme for funding support. We were blown away by how much she genuinely cared about our success and looked for other opportunities to help us.

“We were filmed for an episode that went out on daytime TV during the height of lockdown and the interest it generated was astronomical! Within the space of 24 hours we had generated more sales than we did in the whole of 2019. I’m eternally grateful to Gillian for that and I always credit her for creating what was a hugely transformational moment in our business. We went from being a niche business to being well on our way to becoming a household name overnight.”

The Nursem team has now grown to 11 to cope with the ever-increasing demand for its products, it’s won praise from Vogue and beauty editors and the company expects to double its turnover by the end of next year.

Nursem is already exporting to six European countries after securing distribution partnerships and is preparing to launch in the US and Australia in 2021. It also has plans to extend the Nursem product range into body care and hand sanitiser.

Jonny added: “2020 has been a step change in our business and exciting things are happening every day now that we have such momentum. We had been working away at this idea for ten years and it’s incredible that it was ready at the time when it was needed most.

“One of the best things about our expansion outside of the UK is the fact that we will also export our promise to make a difference to nurses around the world. Other countries feel the same profound sense of gratitude as we do towards their healthcare staff, especially since the pandemic, and it’s a wonderful feeling to replicate our Nursem Promise model of care elsewhere too.”

The BIC’s Innovation Manager Gillian Middleton added: “Nursem deserves every success and it’s been a pleasure to have played a part in their success story so far. I can’t wait to see what they do next.

“The Nursem story is a great example of how the Innovation Programme is here to help ambitious North East entrepreneurs with the funding, guidance and contacts they need to get their brilliant ideas out into the world.”

For information on the Innovation Programme call the innovation team on 0191 516 6039 or email them at innovation@ne-bic.co.uk

The North East Business and Innovation Centre (BIC) has received £899,250 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund for the North East SME Innovation Programme 2 as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.