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Innovation as a driver of business success

Damien Charlton, a Partner in Ward Hadaway’s Commercial law team and Estelle Blanks, Executive Director at Innovation SuperNetwork discuss innovation as a driver of business success.

Damien Charlton, a Partner in Ward Hadaway’s Commercial law team and Estelle Blanks, Executive Director at Innovation SuperNetwork

Coming up with new ideas is essential to success in business to keep things fresh.

The innovators, like those featured in this year’s North East Fastest 50, are setting themselves apart from the competition and delivering sustained success as a result.

Damien, a Partner in the Commercial law team, said: “History shows that the North East has a great track record of turning innovation into world-beating products. We’re collaborative – with businesses often coming together to solve large-scale industrial problems – and as such, we’re at the helm of pragmatic innovation that makes a real impact, not just regionally, but globally.

“The companies in this year’s Fastest 50 have continued this tradition, showing incredible ambition through developing solutions to some of the world’s biggest problems.

“For example, some are involved in innovations to ensure we have fresh water, faster transport and cleaner air. They are coming up with innovative payment solutions, inventing new tools and systems and being disruptors in the market.

“Some are powering the future of the automotive sector, speeding up production and developing new and innovative approaches to customer services.”

Estelle Blanks, Executive Director at Innovation SuperNetwork agrees, but says there’s always room to do more. She said: “Innovation isn’t just a one-time need. It’s a continuous process that ensures companies remain competitive and profitable. Research & development (R&D) is central to a business’s ability to effectively innovate.

“Without it, how can a company identify the areas where they can effect impactful change?

“Fast-growing businesses that succeed in increasing productivity, turnover and profits all have one thing in common. They have a commitment to investing in the skills, facilities and ideas they need to compete and grow.

“While the region is good at generating ideas and collaboration, we need to invest more in R&D. The UK invests around 1.7% of GDP in R&D activity, with the North East falling way below this. The EU has a target of 3%, with other nations investing significantly more (South Korea invests around 4.3%).

“Innovation managers and dedicated R&D teams remain focused on driving business innovation for growth year-round. But what about small and medium-sized businesses, who don’t have the time or resource to focus on R&D?

“Collaboration is key for these companies, and we do that well in the North East.”

Damien added: “No doubt, many of the businesses listed amongst this year’s Fastest 50 are those who are reaping the benefit from investment over the past few years in up-to-date skills and equipment, alongside a continued commitment to embedding innovative processes and products into their business practice.”

Estelle said that for those who find themselves faced with a problem that inhibits growth, they can connect with a variety of businesses working across different sectors to find solutions that work, drive innovation and help them remain profitable.

For instance, The Innovation SuperNetwork delivers the region’s innovation conference, VentureFest North East in November which Ward Hadaway has supported for many years, and also the Innovation Challenge programme to help regional companies collaborate and excel.

“For those businesses with bright ideas, these are real market opportunities that will help build their profile, experience and contacts,” she said.

Damien Charlton is a Partner in Ward Hadaway’s Commercial law team. He can be contacted on 0191 204 4265 and

Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.

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