Award-winning Middlesbrough creative agency, Juiced, has gained a £1,500 business recovery grant from Open North Foundation (ONF), the not-for-profit set up by the region’s business sector to support small firms.

ONF was established in 2020 to assist the businesses and people of the North East to recover from the ravages of COVID-19. Since then, it has widened its remit to support small and early-stage businesses which have a compelling case but have been adversely affected by recent economic shocks.

Established in 2019, by director, Robert Bedford, Juiced, based at 13a Albert Street,  Middlesbrough, specialises in brand development, bespoke illustration and merchandising and is part of the vibrant Tees digital sector.

The company has gained significant industry recognition, including Small Business of the Year Finalist in the Tees Tech Awards 2022 and 2023, ScaleUP Growth Award Finalist in the StartUP Awards North East 2022 and 2023 and Best New Creative Business Finalist in the Best New Tees Business Awards 2022.

Robert said: “A huge thank you to the ONF and the business community in the North East, who have helped and supported Juiced among a wide range and variety of small businesses during the last three years. The fact that a very compassionate group of individuals came together, at the height of the pandemic, to put together a plan to help other firms is quite unbelievable. This £1,500 grant will help us revitalise our currently dormant online store and access our previous business-to-consumer (B2C) market. It will also give us the capital to invest in a relaunch of our store while mitigating risk. We will be able to focus on bringing the stock in prior to launch rather than focussing on pre-orders as we had in the past.”

Applicants seeking ONF grant funding must demonstrate clear negative impact with evidence and also how they can benefit from the free cash grants, training and consultancy services the ONF can offer. ONF will consider all needs, although applications are viewed more favourably if they demonstrate future job and business growth.

All who work for ONF do so free of charge and it has secured the support of leading North East businesses and organisations dedicated to helping to rebuild the economy of the North East. All monies raised and business support services that are available to successful applicants are donated by fellow North East businesses, wider organisations and individuals.

In addition to the grant funding, the ONF has offered Juiced further free support via one of its partners, the Business Clinic at Newcastle Business School, Northumbria University.

With support and guidance from industry experts at Newcastle Business School, final year undergraduate students analyse the problem they are presented with, provide a detailed report with recommendations and make a presentation of their recommendations to their client. The additional resource and fresh thinking, provides the client with access to up-to-date research and sound recommendations they can take forward.

Richard Swart, Chair, ONF, said: “In recent years the creative digital marketplace has grown dramatically, especially here in the North East and there are many truly talented individuals making a real impact in the business world. Their talents and skills are utilised by regional, national and international firms that are looking for creative marketing solutions to help them gain a position of differentiation in the market.

“The team at Juiced are a really talented bunch of people providing exceptional creative outputs for their clients and the quality of work is evidenced by the industry awards they have won since opening in 2019. The application for funding met all our key criteria, including the potential to create future, quality jobs and we wish Juiced all the very best for the future.”