Introducing the manufacturing and processing challenge

My name is Ryan Siddall and I am an Innovation Manager working for NEPIC and the Innovation SuperNetwork. On a daily basis I work very closely with large and small companies across the North East and I’m continually inspired by the sheer scale of manufacturing, academic and innovation expertise that is housed in the region.

My undergraduate degree in chemistry from Newcastle University has provided me with a sound technical understanding of chemical processes that are carried out on Teesside, but since joining NEPIC, I’ve developed an appreciation of the impact that innovation, continuous improvement and collaboration has on the chemical, process and pharmaceutical industries. The success of the region relies on knowledge sharing between large and small companies; SMEs are small and agile enough to develop innovative techniques and processes to make a huge impact on the manufacturing sector, and larger companies have the infrastructure and financial clout to accelerate these innovations to commercialisation. Organisations like ed/ge, NEPIC and the Innovation SuperNetwork are essential in allowing SMEs and large companies to network, share best practice and ultimately collaborate for the benefit of the sector and region.

The Tees Valley Business Challenge is a great initiative designed to bring larger and smaller companies together to tackle an industrial problem. NEPIC are supporting Procter and Gamble’s Newcastle Innovation Centre to take the first steps on their sustainability journey. The centre has recently installed an efficient gas-powered steam generator which is used to power the site, and this releases a fair amount of Carbon Dioxide. The aim of this challenge is to seek innovative engineering solutions from SMEs to help reduce the level of CO2 emitted from the generator. It is hoped that an engineering company from the Tees Valley can come up with an ‘outside of the box’ approach to emission reduction.

Traditional carbon capture technologies require significant footprint and capital investment, making them unsuitable and inaccessible for smaller companies and sites such as R&D facilities, offices, hotels etc. P&G are looking for engineers to design a simple unit, utilising simple technology, which can be ‘bolted’ on to the existing generator to reduce some of the CO­emissions. Successful challenge solvers will be given the opportunity to work with P&G at their pilot plant to be able to test their designs in a manufacturing environment.

Further details are listed below about the challenges and how to apply.

Five challenges were launched on the 17th and 18th of February, the webinar recordings for each events are available on the website. You can also find them individually below:-

To get involved in this programme, organisations, businesses, and charities will need to register their interest for at least one of the five strands mentioned above and have a registered office or trading address in one of the five Tees Valley Authorities (Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar & Cleveland or Stockton-on-Tees)

A small business can participate in more than one strand and find further details about the challenges and our FAQ on Edge website:

Small and medium business including charities have until the 7th March to submit their expression of interest form via the Edge Innovation website here

The key dates for the programme are highlighted below:-

  • 7th March 2022 at 12pm – Submission deadline phase 1
  • 14th March 2022 – Shortlisted decision announcement for phase 1
  • 25th April 2022 at 12pm – Submission deadline phase 2
  • 26th - 28th April – Shortlisted decision announcement for phase 2
  • w/c 26/06/2022 – Final Evaluation

This is an exciting opportunity for innovative small businesses that can develop a solution to help P&G start their sustainability journey.

The small businesses that are involved will be given a £5k grant to develop a ‘prototype’ solution with the opportunity for five of the businesses being apply to apply for an additional £45k grant to further develop their concept.