Innovation Grants Launched to Support Tourism and Hospitality Businesses

Hospitality, tourism and food and drink businesses in parts of the North East region will now be able to bid for grants of up to £50k to implement innovative solutions to challenges facing the sector.

Grants of between £10,000 and £50,000 are available to businesses in Northumberland, Newcastle and North Tyneside, thanks to the Hospitality, Innovation, Tourism, Supply (HITS) project, funded by the North of Tyne Combined Authority. The grant will represent 50% of a total project cost with match funding needed for the remainder.

The grant scheme was launched as part of the first Time Out Tuesday event held this week. The HITS programme is being delivered by NewcastleGateshead Initiative in partnership with Food and Drink North East and NBSL, who support businesses in the region to access grants and mentoring.

North of Tyne Combined Authority Mayor Jamie Driscoll opened the event with guest speakers also including the BBC’s North East and Cumbria Political Correspondent, Richard Moss and Ian Wright, former co-chair of the Government’s Food and Drink Sector Council.

The innovation grant is open to tourism, hospitality and supply chain businesses for undertaking innovation projects that can contribute to the following drivers – delivering business growth, supporting the safeguarding and creation of good quality jobs and driving economic impact in the tourism and hospitality sectors within the North of Tyne area.

This could be new products or services, or adopting a new innovative process not currently used in the sector. Projects could focus on new technologies, solutions which enable businesses to be more efficient or processes to improve staff training or recruitment.

Businesses are also being encouraged to work together on a collaborative bid which could benefit more than one organisation.

The HITS programme was launched earlier this year to help support businesses in the sector embed innovation into their ways of working. Time Out Tuesday will be a monthly event open to members of the programme. Only members of the programme will be eligible to apply for a grant.

Metro Mayor for the North of Tyne, Jamie Driscoll, said: “This is all about backing our local tourism and hospitality businesses. It’s about working together to provide visitors with the best possible experience. And it’s about doing this in a way that helps companies grow, create jobs, and protect the environment. That’s why this programme is so important.”

Destination Director at NGI, Ian Thomas said: “We know the impact recent challenges have had and are still having on this sector, so it is imperative we start working together to grow our businesses and drive more visitors.

“There are some huge opportunities for the region including developing our food and drink offer, marketing to new international markets, working with partners such as the BBC who have made a phenomenal investment into the North East in terms of film and TV production, so we need to ensure our businesses are in a position to take advantage of these opportunities. HITS can support this by bringing like-minded people together to create new ways of working, which will benefit both the sector and visitors.”

Chris Jewitt, Founder and CEO of Food and Drink North East added: “With the trifold impact of Brexit uncertainty, the global pandemic and the current cost of living crisis, the past three years have hit the food, drink, hospitality and tourism sectors hard here in the North East.

“From food producers to restaurateurs, hoteliers and visitor attractions, business leaders have had to dig deep to navigate through these challenging times. What we have seen is an upsurge in collaborative entrepreneurship, hard graft and invention come to the fore as businesses from across the supply chain have battled to remain open and operational.

“The HITS programme is a unique opportunity to cement that spirit of innovation and provide the potential funding that can help unlock some of the solutions that will help these businesses not just survive but thrive.”

To find out more about the project and to sign up to become a member go to