The search for the most innovative companies in the region is now under way as part of the North East Business Awards.

In the 2018 awards, the Innovation Award will be given at heats in Northumberland and Tyneside; Durham, Sunderland and South Tyneside; and Teesside, before the overall winner is crowned at the regional finals next April.

As they try to select this year’s winner, judges will be looking for innovative product or company launches, particularly if it has contributed to a company’s commercial success and job creation.

The award, sponsored by Business Durham, Teesside University and Premier Tech Aqua UK, seeks to identify and reward the company which has launched the most innovative new product/service in the North East in the calendar year 2017.

Sponsors of the Durham heat, Business Durham, said the definition of innovation points to new methods, ideas or products.

They said: “But at Business Durham, innovation is about so much more. It’s about how we support those methods in the right business environments so the products can reach the right audience, whether it’s local or global. Innovation to us is about how we can help bring those ideas to market and how businesses can reach new sectors.

“The package of innovation support Business Durham can offer is evidenced across the county, but no more so than at the North East Technology Park (NETPark) in Sedgefield. “NETPark is home to some of the most innovative companies in the world, developing products and services which are changing the way we live. As part of Durham County Council’s long-term commitment to innovation, the park is enjoying a multi-million pound expansion as part of a 10-year strategy to create 3,000 jobs and add another £400m to the region’s GVA.

“The two new £7.6m ‘Explorer’ buildings will attract more high tech companies in to the park as well as providing a home for those businesses wanting to scale up. They include one of Explorer’s first tenants, Ibex Innovations, which started with a virtual office at NETPark and is now at the forefront of x-ray imaging technology.

“We’re also supporting businesses to come up with innovation solutions to healthcare issues in County Durham via our Smart County programme, a ground breaking project which is bringing together local health organisations, the voluntary sector, universities and private companies. And we have taken an innovative approach to finance by investing in the future of our companies via our new investment channel, the Finance Durham LP Fund.

“At Business Durham, we help make sense of things for companies – the latest buzz words, the latest funding, the latest concepts – so they can focus on being innovative, rather than being weighed down with endless and ever increasing streams of information.

“We hope to meet many innovative companies at this year’s North East Business Awards and we’re proud and delighted to be supporting the innovation category again this year.”

Businesses can enter by visiting