Open North Foundation


Open North Foundation is a not for profit company dedicated to assisting the businesses and people of the North East to recover from the ravages of COVID-19. We will also support companies that were established during COVID and can show a credible business plan and demonstrate sustainable progress.

From December 2021 we have broadened our scope further to support any existing North East business impacted by the measures to combat variants.

In addition to the above, as we hopefully continue to move away from significant Covid impacts, unrelated to Covid we will now also support small and early stage businesses which have a compelling case but have been adversely affected by recent economic shocks. ONF has a particular emphasis on supporting personnel development, training and apprenticeships.

As for all other applicants they will need to demonstrate clear negative impact with evidence and also how they can benefit from the free cash grants and training and consultancy services we offer. We will consider all needs but we do prefer to be able to support existing jobs and business sustainability. Applications would be viewed more favourably if they were also able to demonstrate future job and business growth.

All who work for us do so free of charge in addition to their separate day jobs.

ONF has secured the support of leading North East businesses and organisations dedicated to helping to rebuild the economy of the North East.

ONF’s priority is raise the funds to enable ONF to support in a meaningful way as many businesses and organisations as funds allow. ONF is also looking for other individuals and organisations who support its aims to help grow the available funds to help ONF to deliver its goal.

ONF is committed to not spending a penny raised on anything other than the qualifying beneficiaries. We have zero overheads.

The businesses and organisations which ONF will support will be those which deliver long-term positive economic impact and create meaningful long term employment to help lift the region’s economy.

If you would like to support ONF in its mission please complete the pledge form and help to speed us along this journey to bridging the gap…”

Richard Swart – Chairman
Colin Hewitt – Vice Chair

Open North Foundation


To provide financial assistance, technical support, business advice and consultancy to enterprises and individuals adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and those established during the pandemic who can show a credible business plan and can demonstrate sustainable progress.

We provide grant financing and/or free training and mentoring to qualifying beneficiaries (all subject to resource availability).

 Businesses supported should be those considered to have medium to long-term futures with job growth prospects. Exceptions may be considered.

Open North Foundation


Open North Foundation is a not for profit company dedicated to assisting the businesses and people of the North East to recover from the ravages of COVID-19, as well as those established during COVID.

Support business and social enterprises, including the funding of education and training for employees and potential employees.

Establish business and social enterprises / or develop existing business and social enterprises.

Develop the capacity and skills of individuals to realise further potential.

Open North Foundation



Richard Bradley

Richard Bradley

Richard Bradley is the Managing Director and co-owner at Dyer Engineering, a County Durham based manufacturer of metal components for multiple industry sectors such as energy, rail and defense.

Born in Newcastle upon Tyne, Richard is a qualified accountant by trade and has over 20 years experience working in manufacturing industries in the SME sector

Passionate about the North east of England, Richard is committed to playing a part in driving sustainable employment in our region. He sits on the board of EMN, a network dedicated to serving the engineering and manufacturing community in our region.

Colin Hewitt

Colin Hewitt
Vice Chair

Partner Ward Hadaway Solicitors


David Foreman

Currently Regional Manager for Barclays, covering the SME market in the region, as well as working on national projects linked to Industry Policy for the bank.

David has wide experience in this market in the north east having previously worked as a Relationship Director and also carrying out a Credit Manager role with the same organisation.

He is a panel member for the County Durham Growth Fund, supporting Durham County Council in assessing funding applications for European Regional Development Fund grants.

Gill Courtney

Gill Courtney MBE

Gill is a Director and co-owner of Wessington Cryogenics Limited, a Wearside based manufacturer of cryogenic pressure vessels for the oil and gas, bio-medical and physics research sectors. She has many years experience working in both public and private sectors and in previous roles has been charged with developing strategic and income generating partnerships which bring together; industry academia and cross sectoral stakeholders around the enterprise, employability, technology transfer and city regeneration agenda. Gill was a founder Board Member of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership and is currently Vice President of the North East England Chamber of Commerce and a board member of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum. She has always been a pro-active ambassador for North East business at a local, regional and international level which culminated in the award of an MBE for Services to North East Industry in 2011.

Paul Shields

Paul Shields

Paul joined MHA Tait Walker in 2007 as a Chartered Accountant joining the Business Services audit team and was promoted to Partner in early 2021. Paul heads up our Durham office and is responsible for a portfolio of clients. Paul has extensive experience in dealing with owner managed businesses and regularly attends clients’ board meetings to offer both strategic and financial advice. He started working in practice in 1998 and during this time he has worked alongside a wide range of clients. Paul has a particular expertise in the Manufacturing & Engineering and Property & Construction sectors and he is part of the MHA Tait Walker specialist teams in these areas. Paul is also the captain of Whitburn Cricket Club.

Paul McEldon OBE

Paul McEldon

As Chief Executive of the North East Business and Innovation Centre (BIC) Ltd, Paul comes from an accomplished background in finance and auditing with KPMG, having previously studied accountancy and financial analysis at Newcastle University. Since his appointment in 2001 Paul has injected fresh thinking into establishing the BIC as primary regional player in the fields of incubation, innovation and business support.

In addition to his work with the BIC, Paul works with several other organisations, all dedicated to shaping enterprise in the North East. Paul chairs the regional enterprise network group North East Enterprise Agencies Ltd (NEEAL), and was appointed chair of the National Enterprise Network (NEN) in 2012, prior to which he served as deputy chair.

Paul is also a Non-Executive at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust and is chair of their Audit Committee.

In 2020, Paul was awarded the Outstanding Contribution award by National Enterprise Network in recognition of his exceptional work. The Awards recognised those in the enterprise support sector who have gone the extra mile in the most challenging year for business.

Finally Paul was awarded an Obe in 2021 for his services to North East businesses.

Sarah O’Mahoney

Sarah O’Mahoney

Sarah is a Director and has been with the business for 11 years. She works on a daily basis with the regional, specialist and international media and manages social media channels for a range of clients. Sarah leads on business development, including the firm’s growing specialisation in the area of sustainability and green marketing. Sarah sits on the regional board of the chartered institute of marketing, is on the CBI’s future leaders programme, the Young Enterprise NE volunteer board and is a member of tech hub Dynamo and a school governor.

Dr Matt Sutherland

Matt is an Associate Professor in Marketing and has worked with over 240 North-East SMEs, as well as some of the region’s larger businesses including Greggs plc and Sage UK Ltd. Matt is a member of the Management Board of The Small Business Charter, and has secured over £4.7 million worth of research income from his extensive knowledge exchange activity. Matt is currently involved in SME productivity research funded by The Dept. For Business Energy Industrial Strategy and a Non-Exective Director for PraxisAuril. Matt is currently co-leading the Small Business Leadership

Programme at Northumbria University, a strategic training programme for senior leaders in SMEs, he is also the founder of leading business podcast, “Why Small Business Matters”. Outside work Matt is a school governor, he sits on a number of boards, and is chair of a North-East based charity.


James Ramsbotham CBE

James Ramsbotham CBE DL Chair, Newcastle Building Society, Pro-Chancellor Sunderland University, Honorary Colonel – The Rifles, former CEO North East Chamber of Commerce

Gillian Marshall

Gillian Marshall

Dynamic and motivated professional with a proven record of generating and building long term relationships. Adaptable and transformational leader, making critical decisions during challenging times. Expectational communication skills. delivers results which add value. Extensive knowledge across public and private sectors. Specialities: Leadership, Business Development, Mentoring and Coaching, Strategic Management, Service Excellence.

Present roles: Board member of Rural Design Centre, Board member of Tedco, Panel member of County Durham Growth Fund.

Previous roles: Chief Executive – The Entrepreneurs’ Forum, Relationship Manager – UKTI, Business Development Manager – Business and Enterprise Group,
Various management roles – Barclays.

Jamie Ollivere

Jamie Ollivere

Jamie Ollivere is Managing Director of RTC North. Founded by his father in 1989 in Sunderland, RTC is one of Europe’s leading independent technology transfer companies and has built its reputation over the past 30 years for supporting small businesses with innovation, business growth and internationalisation. As well as providing services to SMEs, the company also works to promote the STEM agenda in schools and reaches over 10,000 young people each year. The company currently employs 85 staff and has offices in the North East, Yorkshire and North West England.

Nigel Mills

Nigel Mills CBE

Nigel is CEO of The Lakes Distillery Company. Nigel is a serial entrepreneur currently involved in building a global luxury whisky brand with a team of talented individuals based in the North East and Cumbria. Nigel is a former Chair of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum.


Jonathan Moreland

Jonathan is a Partner and the head of the Dispute Resolution and Employment teams at Durham law firm, Swinburne Maddison LLP.  He joined the firm in 1991, qualified in 1993 and was later promoted to Partner in 1995. 

For over twenty-five years, he has been advising businesses and individuals on a wide range of matters – acting for national PLCs, limited companies, LLPs, partnerships, charities and academic institutions, such as universities and schools – and has been praised in The Legal 500 United Kingdom for his attention to detail and ability to provide clear and well-structured advice.

Jonathan is centrally involved with the management and strategic development of Swinburne Maddison and, as a business owner himself, is able to offer his clients a pragmatic and empathetic approach to help them identify and solve not just legal, but also commercial issues in the cases he deals with.

He enjoys links with the University of Durham, is the Chair of the Trustees of the Union Society, and also advises the Governing Body of St. Chad’s College.  In 2019 he was appointed to the County Durham Growth Fund panel.

James Kyle

James Kyle

James is an Investment director in the Rathbones Newcastle office having helped establish the office in the city in 2013.  He started his career in the wealth management industry in 1998 and specialises in the management of private client, trust, offshore and pension investment funds.   

James graduated in Law from Newcastle University in 1998, holds the Chartered Institute of Securities and Investment (CISI) Diploma and is a Chartered Fellow of the CISI.  He currently sits on the Appeals Committee of St Oswald’s Hospice charity and is a former trustee of the Great North Air Ambulance Service

Alan Ferguson OBE

Alan Ferguson OBE is Director of Fergusons Transport.

Born in Blyth, the former president of the North East Chamber of Commerce, is current chair of the Blyth Town Deal Board and spearheaded its £25 million bid towards regeneration, with the outcome pending later this year. 

Established in 1926, Family-ran, Fergusons Transport is the largest privately owned haulier in the North East. Its portfolio of customers comprises local, national and international companies from all sectors of industry, including Amazon.With headquarters in Cramlington, it operates from several locations throughout the UK and also specialises in warehousing, logistics, removals and self-storage.

Brian Aitken

Brian Aitken

Brian was Editor of The Journal for 11 years. In his time there he built up one of the most extensive and powerful business networks in the North East and initiated a number of successful campaigns and projects that contributed to, and celebrated the success of, the region.

He started the Let’s Grow campaign which successfully bid for £60m from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund. Working in partnership with the BE Group (now UMI) and chartered accountants UNW, Brian recruited a panel of business people to distribute the money to help companies expand.

The grant funding helped dozens of North East businesses safeguard or create nearly 5,000 jobs.

Other campaigns he initiated include:

· Proud to Back Apprenticeships which tackled the skills gap by promoting the benefits to companies of investing in training.

· Go Global which used case studies and expert advice to encourage companies to export their way out of recession.

· Think North East First which had the aim of keeping as many local pounds circulating in the local economy as possible. This was done by promoting North East-made products and services and encouraging people to seek them out when making purchasing decisions.

· Taste North East England, a ‘buy local, use local, eat local’ campaign aimed at consumers, retailers and chefs.

· Pay Fair, an ethical business campaign supporting smaller firms by encouraging companies to pay bills promptly

He set up his own business, Brian Aitken Associates, five years ago and has held Corporate Affairs positions at Newcastle United and Newcastle College as well as working for a range of clients including the charity Changing Lives, Redu, Northumbrian Water, UK Land Estates, Elite Fitness and FW Capital.

He has been a board member of the North East England Chamber of Commerce, Newcastle Gateshead Initiative, Tyne and Wear Sport and the Tyne Theatre Preservation Trust. He is currently a trustee of Urban Green Newcastle, the charity that took over the running of the city’s parks and allotments from Newcastle City Council.

Sarah Slaven

Sarah Slaven

Sarah Slaven is Interim Managing Director at Business Durham, the economic development arm of Durham County Council.

Sarah has over 25 years’ experience in economic development, business support and partnership working in County Durham, in particular leading on business engagement to help businesses start-up, develop and grow in County Durham. Sarah was part of the management team that established Business Durham in 2012 and held the post of Operations Director until taking on her current position as Interim Managing Director. Prior to working for Business Durham, Sarah set up and managed East Durham Business Service, a public-private partnership.

Sarah is a Member of the Institute of Economic Development, and holds a BA (hons) in Law and Economics, and an MBA from Durham University.

Currently, Sarah is a Director of County Durham Engineering and Manufacturing Network (CDEMN) and of Aycliffe Business Park Ltd, as well as serving on the Board of the County Durham Economic Partnership and Innovate North East Ltd.

In her spare time Sarah enjoys walking and cycling with her family, gardening, watching cricket in the sunshine or relaxing with a good book and nice coffee!

Nicki Clark

Nicki Clark

Nicki is Chief Executive at UMi. Nicki’s professional experience includes the Financial, FMCG, and Business Service sectors which has also resulted in her working with a number of different cultures following her years in export. As one of the founding members of the team at UMi Nicki has facilitated a number of partnerships, acquisitions and has played a key role in the development of what makes UMi a very special place to work. She believes that businesses have the power to make a difference and by working together we can do more. Its that belief that is a key part of UMi’s culture today and is evidenced through employee ownership and a progressive open minded culture that thrives on doing what others say can’t be done.

Nicki’s has a number of other commitments that give her the opportunity to influence driving a balanced and thriving business community as well as the education of young people. All with the clear purpose of fulfilling our aim of making it easier for businesses to do more and go further.

John Adamson

Managing Director of Ramside Estates.

A Hospitality and Catering Business in the North East of England operating 8 Venues employing 650 people.

I’m continually trying to develop the business whilst having a social responsibility to the local area.

Married to Suzanne with 4 Children and 2 Dogs

Hobbies: Working on Hog Roast Trailers, listening to Soul and House Music and supporting Newcastle United.

Kevan Carrick

Kevan Carrick

Kevan Carrick is co-founder and chairman of JK Property Consultants LLP, founded in 2007 He has advised on master planning and delivering key strategic regeneration developments including: East Quayside, Newcastle; HMRC 1.6 m sq. ft., offices Longbenton and Washington; Transport Hubs at Hull, Darlington and Teesside International Airport purchase and formation of joint venture to develop 3.5 m sq. ft. of distribution units. He advises on landlord and tenant matters and acts as mediator/ arbitrator/expert in many property disputes. He also mentors sme’s and start-up businesses.

Present Roles: chairperson, and co-founder director of North East Initiative on Business Ethics; co-founder director and past-chairperson of Northern Dispute Resolutions Limited; and Director of North East Business Innovation Centre.

Previous roles: Chairman and partner Storey Sons & Parker; Chairperson and Trustee of Percy Hedley Foundation; Chairperson and Trustee Northern Counties School for the Deaf; Chairperson Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, North East Region; Chairperson RICS Commercial Market Panel; Chairperson working party RICS to publish The Code for Leasing Business Premises in England and Wales 2007; RICS spokesperson on Policy North East Region; Director Arbirx Limited (training Arbitrators, Experts and Mediators); co-founder, Trustee and Chairman Knowledge Foundation Limited, training and events in economic regeneration; Board member, NELEP Investment panel; and several regeneration groups in Newcastle and Durham.

Caroline Theobald

Caroline Theobald CBE

Caroline Theobald has spent her North East career connecting business people for mutual advantage and is passionate about creating commercial and life opportunities, particularly for young people. She was awarded a CBE for services to business and entrepreneurship in 2016 and is a lifetime holder of the Queen’s Award for Enterprise. Caroline co-founded, among others, FIRST, a learning and development company that specialises in entrepreneurial skills, and The North East Initiative on Business Ethics (NIBE), a not-for-profit organisation on a mission to make the North East known as a place for transparent and quantifiable business practices. Caroline is also chair of the business advisory board at Newcastle Business School, Northumbria University; an associate at Teesside Business School, an advocate of gender equality, a trustee of Newcastles of the World and an honorary diplomat representing Sweden.

Visiting Professor in Business and Law, Northumbria University

Chris McDonald

Chris McDonald

Born and bred in the North East, Chris is experienced in setting up and growing small businesses, as well as working at a senior level in multinationals.  Chris led the development of new manufacturing technologies and innovations for clients across the world, before leading the divestment of what is now the Materials Processing Institute in Teesside in 2014.  As Chief Executive, Chris has overseen the diversification of this 75 year old innovation centre, from its core business in the steel industry to cutting edge new developments in digital technologies, advanced materials, decarbonisation and the circular economy.

Chris is a prominent supporter of UK industrial strategy, often called on to comment in the media and provide support to government. He chairs the UK Metals Council, which connects the metals supply chain to government and is chair of innovation & enterprise at the Federation of Small Businesses, as well as being a North East Regional Council member of the CBI.

In supporting the Open North Foundation, Chris hopes to share his expertise in innovation, technology and strategic change, to support businesses in the region.

Warren Harrison

Warren Harrison

Warren is the Dean of Teesside University Business School.

HE joined Teesside University in 2002, focusing his work on the development of industry and educational partnerships, and led highly successful projects in collaboration with some of the UK’s largest media companies to develop the digital capability of SME’s and freelancers across the UK.

Warren’s strengths in spotting collaborative opportunities led to his appointment as Associate Dean for Enterprise and Business Engagement in 2017. Warren has always brought an international dimension to this partnership working, and this led to his appointment as Associate Dean International for the Business School, in 2018. Since this time, Warren has expanded both Transnational Education Partnerships and international student recruitment, playing a key role in securing new provision in the Czech Republic, Sweden, Uzbekistan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Singapore.

His work is now focused upon delivering the ambition to establish the Business School as truly international, realising global opportunities for study, research, enterprise, and business engagement, for the benefit of staff and students.

Dr Arnab Basu

Dr Hannah Hesselgreaves

Hannah is Director of Research and Knowledge Exchange at Newcastle Business School, Northumbria University and Associate Professor in Human Resource Development, where she oversees a large portfolio of business engagement programmes.

Hannah has spent the last 15 years helping organisations of many different shapes, sizes and sectors to bake learning and evidence into their management and leadership practices.

She is an experienced applied researcher and evaluator in the public, private, and third sector, conducting work for many organisations including the General Medical Council, the Department of Health, and BEIS, for whom she has recently conducted a BEIS-funded evaluation of advice interventions for SMEs. She now co-leads the Small Business Leadership Programme in the north.

Sharon Lane

Sharon Lane

Sharon Lane is Managing Director of Tees Components, a heavy engineering subcontractor in Redcar & Cleveland. Tees Components provides precision engineering services for defence, marine, and energy sectors. An apprenticeship and degree qualified mechanical engineer, and alumna of Teesside and Durham Universities, Sharon has led the family business for the last 15 years. Sharon is an enthusiastic ambassador for STEM and skills, a governor at Middlesbrough College where she chairs the Employer Advisory Board, and also sits on the regional advisory board for Make UK. Currently she represents the Tees Valley LEP on the Government’s Green Jobs Task Force. Sharon’s work has been recognised over recent years with awards including North East Business Executive of the Year (Teesside region), WES Top 50 Women in Engineering, and Tees Businesswoman of the Year.

T Cooper

Tania Cooper MBE

Tania Cooper MBE is the Managing Director of Steel Benders UK Ltd providing steel forming and profiling services. SB is a family owned busines started in 2002 by Tania and her husband Malcolm. Based in Teesside and servicing offshore, architectural design, renewable energy and manufacturing industries.

Tania joined Alexander Technologies Europe in 1990 as Finance Manager and swiftly grew in the role to become the CEO. Alexander design and manufacture battery and charges for portable power applications. With sites in Mexico, USA, Malaysia and UK, supplying OEM customers globally. Tania has extensive experience and knowledge in global logistics, manufacturing operations, finance, procurement and CEM management, regulatory design management and ISO. Tania has participated and lead in several USA acquisitions and mergers and provided change management and corporate turnaround roles specializing is distressed acquisitions.

Tania won the North East Exporter of the Year Award (Overall Winner) in addition to being awarded an MBE for Services to International Trade and Business in the North East.

Previously Chair of the NE Regional International Trade Office for UK Trade and Investment, and Chair East Durham Business Services.

Currently member of Business Durham Advisory Board supporting business development and job creation in County Durham. Chair of the County Durham Regional Growth Fund and a Trustee for the NE STEM Foundation a charity which supports STEM education for children in the North East.

Dr Arnab Basu

Dr Arnab Basu

Dr Arnab Basu is the founding CEO of Kromek Group plc, a supplier of patented radiation detection technologies to the Medical Imaging, Nuclear Detection and Security Screening markets globally with operations in Durham and Huddersfield in the UK, and Pennsylvania and California in the USA.

Dr Basu successfully led Kromek through five rounds of private equity financing, including its first institutional Venture Capital funding in 2005. More recently, he led the successful acquisition and integration of California based NOVA R&D Inc., in 2010; eV Products Inc., in Pennsylvania, US, in 2013 and a successful listing on AIM, at the London Stock Exchange, in October 2013. Arnab has extensive experience in international business in USA, Europe, Middle East and Asia and has led M&A’s, formed strategic partnerships and raised equity. Arnab has also been part of many trade missions including a Prime Minister led mission to India in November 2016 and has led UK trade missions to Asia.

After graduating in Natural Sciences in Kolkata, India, Arnab’s career began in his family’s electronic materials and soldering fluxes business.
Arriving in the UK in 1996, he graduated with first class honours in Engineering at Northumbria University. He read his PhD in Physics at Durham University, receiving the Russell Grant prize for best thesis in solid state physics. Dr Basu has authored over 25 technical publications in peer review journals and created over 20 patents.

A prominent figure within the business community, Dr Basu is currently chair of the Academic Health Science Network for the North East and North Cumbria (AHSN) (a National Health Service organisation) and Chairman of Durham City Cricket Club.

He previously served as a Board member of the North East LEP (leading Inward Investment), the North-East Innovation Strategy Board, Business Durham, a member of the International Advisory Board of Newcastle University Business School, chair for the steering group of Health Quest (Grand Challenge) for the North East LEP (Local Enterprise Partnership) and is a founding member of Northern Futures UTC (University Training College in partnership with Sunderland University), in Newcastle.

In 2009, he was awarded Ernst and Young UK Entrepreneur of the Year and he is currently a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Fellow of the Institute of Physics and Fellow of the Institute of Directors. He is also a Patron of St Margaret’s Centre, Durham, a mental health charity and board of advisors for FJ Philanthropy.

In January 2014, he received an MBE in the New Year’s Honours for services to regional development and international trade and, in July 2016, he was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Science by Northumbria University. Arnab has recently been appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of Durham.

PR & Media

Daniel O’Mahoney
PR & Media

Daniel has been at the forefront of public relations and reputation management in the North of England for over 30 years. He is a founding partner of Bradley O’Mahoney Public Relations, which was established in 1991 and has advised a vast range of clients in the public and private sectors. He currently sits on the council of the North East Chamber of Commerce and previously the regional council of the Confederation of British Industry. Daniel is a trustee of charity, Groundwork South & North Tyneside and a Director and Chair of Bishop Chadwick Catholic Education Trust, which will have 34 schools by July 2022.

Stacey Sweeney
PR & Media

Stacey Sweeney is the Owner and Chief Videographer at Scarlet Butterfly Media. After gaining a Media Production Degree at Newcastle College, Stacey set up her business about 4 years ago and has built up an impressive list of North East clients including some our large PLCs and in the Professional Services sector. Scarlet Butterfly Media have a wealth of experience producing innovative high-impact videos and photos that engage, enthral and motivate audiences, helping clients to stand out from the crowd.

Laurence Sweeney
PR & Media

Laurence Sweeney is the Chief Photographer at Scarlet Butterfly Media. After a successful career in Banking, Laurence left his role as the Regional RBS/NatWest International Trade Director to “focus” on Photography. He brings a wealth of experience working with Corporate Clients in the North East. Laurence is a member of the Guild of Photographers and is also an award-winning Wedding Photographer.

Dee Lunn

Dee Lunn
Head Of Digital

Dee brings 20 years experience of design and digital expertise, applied across a range of sectors, including world leading brands. She specialises in enhancing engagement through effective use of a range of technologies.

Amanda Potts

Amanda Potts
Administration Manager

Amanda has over 10 years experience in Project Management, Operations Management, Sales and Business Administration, working in both the private and public sector.Her work has included projects in software installation and integration, website building and tech and business support and consultancy within B2B, B2C and public funding environments.

Open North Foundation


Barclays Bank PLC
Business Durham
Middleton Enterprises
Swinburne Maddison
Wessington Cryogenics
Scarlet Butterfly Media
The Journal Newspaper
Tees Business
Hartlepool College
Prima Cheese
Ribchester Accountants
Brewin Dolphin
North East Business & Innovation Centre
Federation of Small Business
Dyer Engineering

Berger Group Europe
Entrepreneurs’ Forum
Rathbone Investment Management
Make UK
MHA Tait Walker
Northern Echo Newspaper
Bede Homes
JK Property
Barron Williams
Vero Power
Murtek IT
Simon Berry Optometrist
Northumbria University
Tees Components
Teeside University
Muckle LLP
i2i Consultants
Zenith Training

Ward Hadaway
GJ Jackson Accountants
Regional Technology Centre
The Lakes Distillery
Bradley O’Mahoney Public Relations
Jackson Hogg Recruitment
Advanced Manufacturing Forum
Hunter Johnstone
Wear Business
IRR Trenchless
Turbo Power Systems
North East Initiative on Business Ethics
Fergusons Transport
Ramside Hall
Neue Schule
Newlands Fund Research

Open North Foundation



Are you an aspirational North East business in need of funding?

ONF is a grant fund that was set up and funded during Covid by the local public sector and private business community to help small businesses survive the shock of the pandemic.

Since then ONF has helped numerous small business owners in the local community by providing support in the form of grants and business advice.
With the creation of the new North East Mayoral Combined Authority and the focus that this will bring to the economic development of our fantastic region, ONF is proud to extend further support to help small business owners in the North East with their new development or employment opportunities by putting on a “Grants Sprint”.

Grants are available from £2,000 up to £10,000 and the application process will be available from 01 July – 31 July 2024.

All of the Grant applications will go through a comprehensive assessment process and reviewed by an independent Panel.

We will have made a decision on all of the applications by August 16th 2024.

We encourage social enterprises, micro-businesses and SMEs from across the North East who may need support with their growth aspirations to apply.

As a not-for-profit organisation we are dedicated to assisting the businesses and people of the North East to scale or pivot their business. In particular, our mission is to help support training, apprenticeships and areas of growth and development.

The ONF aims to deliver long-term positive economic impact and create meaningful long-term employment to help lift the region’s economy.
Eligible project costs can encompass a wide range of items, for example; capital items, IT equipment, office Furniture, refurbishment works, staff training, consultancy and websites as well as software.

We reserve the right to close the scheme at any time once all grant funding has been allocated.

Click the button below to apply for grant funding.

Open North Foundation


Energy consultancy services

Free 1-hour of HR advice/Health Check which could include advice regarding redundancy, rightsizing, operational HR, structuring outplacement services

Expert support in developing an innovation, technology, product or process

Business and strategy support

Leadership and change management

How to be successful in public affairs

Understanding grant funding and research and development

General export support

Growth planning and costing

Financial forecasting support and business finance health checks

Stress management and well-being workshops

Part-funded placements with our strategic partner, Newcastle Business School’s Small Business Leaders Programme, covering practical and operational topics, including business model innovation; employee engagement; vision and brand; and operational and financial management

To further support your business, our strategic partner Teesside University Business School, offers a range of fully funded courses for SME’s in the Tees Valley region including; Leading Growth, Management Catalyst and Team Spark

Mediation services of commercial disputes

Management of Landlord/tenant matters

Disputes about, or non-payment of rent, service charge and/or insurance

Disrepair/dilapidations claims

Financial planning/forecasting support

One off tax advisory support

Research and development tax relief analysis

Open North Foundation


Let’s help one another recover, discover and grow!

Pledge now by clicking the button below…