Citylife Business Support is available to businesses within Newcastle upon Tyne, Gateshead and Sunderland supporting them to grow and adapt to the challenging conditions that many are currently facing. The support is aimed at helping businesses to adapt to these new challenges, increase business resilience, creating and safeguard jobs.

Business & IP Centre North East provides a grant to businesses to fully fund support, provided by our Experts in Residence Citylife Experts, helping them to grow and implement new models of delivery, equipping them to compete in our challenging economic climate and plan for their future. Eligible SMEs (Small or Medium-sized Enterprises) can access up to twelve hours of free support from BIPC North East Experts.

Eligible SMEs (Small or Medium-sized Enterprises) can access:

  • Up to twelve hours of free support from BIPC North East Citylife Experts.
  • Workshops tailored to specific business needs.
  • A free events programme based on current business challenges, the funding landscape, resilience, and innovation.

Citylife Business Support is funded through the North of Tyne Combined Authority’s Place Innovation Programme and by Newcastle City Council. It is part-funded by the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund with the North of Tyne Combined Authority, Gateshead Council and Sunderland City Council as the lead authorities.

Who can apply?

  • Be a small or medium-sized enterprise.
  • Must be based within the Local Authority boundaries of Newcastle upon Tyne, Gateshead or Sunderland.

To be classed as an SME a business must meet the following criteria:

  • Average number of employees during a financial year must not exceed 250.
  • Annual Turnover must not exceed £36m.
  • Balance Sheet total must not exceed £18m.

What support can I get?

BIPC North East’s Citylife Experts are available to provide twelve hours of free advice tailored to individual needs. This could be one-to-one advice and support, delivered online or in person, or it could be a project or piece of work that they would carry-out on your behalf.

Businesses can draw on the experience of more than 40 Experts who can support them to re-position their business activities. Advice ranges from digital and online capabilities, business finance and cash flow, access to new contracts and market opportunities, employment law, continuity planning, introducing green or sustainable aspects to your business, and re-focusing business operations.

All Experts offer at least one free initial session online, delivered by them on a pro-bono basis. However, through the Citylife Business Support Project, you can then access up to twelve hours of additional free support. You can receive support from one Expert or split your 12 hours between up to two Experts. The service is flexible, providing access to a range of experts to suit the needs of your business.

Who are the Citylife Experts?

The Citylife Experts are small businesses or business support organisations who have worked in partnership with BIPC North East, through the Centre’s Experts-in-Residence programme, or have delivered and supported workshops and events organised by BIPC North East.

See our experts-in-residence

What if I don’t know what support I need?

If you are unsure about which experts might be most appropriate to provide you with support, the BIPC North East team will help you to select an Expert. You can get a free session with any of the Experts, before using your twelve additional hours, to help you decide which Expert is most likely to be able to provide you with the support most needed by your business. It is fine to speak to several Experts before deciding who you would like to work with.

How do I apply?

  • Go to our Experts-in-Residence page to find out which Experts are best placed to provide you with the support you need. Experts participating in the Citylife project are identified. Other Experts-in-Residence featured are not participating in Citylife, as their services are already free to access.
  • Complete the initial appointment form on an Expert’s individual page and submit it online, providing us with details of the type of support you require. If you are unsure of who to speak to, fill in the contact form here and we can direct you to the right Experts.
  • BIPC North East will contact the Expert you have chosen, or best-placed Expert to provide the help you require. The Expert will contact you directly to arrange a meeting (usually online).
  • If you require further meetings or support, this will be agreed at your first meeting, along with a breakdown of the work that is required and the number of hours it will take to complete this work. BIPC North East will then send you an application form to complete and sign and a short Business Eligibility form. These will be returned to us electronically, along with proof of identity (copy of driving licence or passport photo-page).

What happens next?

BIPC North East will contact you to confirm your eligibility and authorise the Expert to commence working with you. Your Expert will be in touch to arrange to carry out the work agreed.

What happens after I have received support from the Expert?

Once your Expert has delivered the support agreed and you’ve signed-off as completed, we will pay the Citylife Grant into your business bank account, so that you can use it to pay the Expert.

Does the Grant include VAT?

If your business is not registered for VAT, the grant will include the Expert’s fee plus VAT, if charged. If you are registered for VAT, the grant will NOT include VAT and you will have to pay this element yourself.

Can I then get support from another Expert?

If you have used your full twelve hours of funded support from your Expert, you cannot access additional grant-aided support from another. If you have not used all of your twelve-hour allocation, you can use the balance to seek help from another Expert.

What happens if the support I need takes longer than twelve hours to complete?

Larger projects of support can be undertaken but the Citylife Business Support scheme will only fund the first twelve hours, provided by the Expert. You would need to pay the balance when the work is completed. Larger schemes of support must be agreed at the initial experts meeting, prior to making an application.

How do I access the free events programme?

BIPC also offers a range of workshops and events, most of which are in person. Our events are held at a variety of venues, including Newcastle City Library, our 7 BIPC Locals and other venues around the North East region.

Workshops are topical and are based on common themes and business need we identify from the businesses we support. As part of a national network of Business & IP Centres, local businesses can also tap into free online webinars, details of which can be found on our events page.  To keep up to date with our events programme visit this link.

Further information

If you have any questions about the scheme or would like to speak to someone to talk through how Citylife Business Support might be able to help you, contact us.

The Citylife Business Support programme is developed and supported by

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Contact us today if you’re interested in receiving business support. We'll help give you the skills, confidence and knowledge to grow and protect your business.

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The North of Tyne Combined Authority is a partnership of three local authorities: Newcastle City Council, North Tyneside Council, and Northumberland County Council and the North of Tyne Elected Mayor. The UK Shared Prosperity Fund is a central pillar of the UK government’s Levelling Up agenda and provides £2.6 billion of funding for local investment by March 2025. The Fund aims to improve pride in place and increase life chances across the UK investing in communities and place, supporting local business, and people and skills. For more information, visit
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