Funded by


Sustainable Sunderland: Coastal Cities Innovation Lab


19th April, 26th April, 3rd May, 10th May, 17th May


University of Sunderland, Sunderland


We are looking for 15 Freelancers and/or leaders of Micro SMEs operating within the Creative Industries and based or working from Sunderland to take part in our new Innovation Lab during April to June 2023.

This new programme will explore the central role that cultural and creative industries play in securing sustainable and inclusive growth within our local creative economies, while enabling our natural and cultural environments and communities to thrive.

What you will receive:

  • 5 x business development workshops (3 hr) exploring carbon and climate literacy, sustainable business systems and processes, identifying new market opportunities for cultural and creative industries within the green and blue economy. Sessions will take place in Sunderland from 2-5pm on:
    • 19th April 2023
    • 26th April 2023
    • 3rd May 2023
    • 10th May 2023
    • 17th May 2023.
  • 1-2-1 sessions focussed on your specific business development needs, incorporating diagnostic session, goal setting and objective planning.
  • Peer support and business networking with creative businesses that share your values.
  • Up to £2500 Innovation Commission Grant (awarded to support an agreed step change towards sustainable practices or a creative response that integrates and tests your learning from this programme).
  • Opportunity to feed into city-wide action research investigating the granular business challenges and profile of Freelancers and Micro SMEs in the creative industries, commissioned by Creative Fuse Sunderland.
  • Knowledge Exchange Event.

Who is this for?

Creative Fuse North East support is available free-of-charge to creative/cultural/digital SMEs*, businesses, organisations and practitioners in the North East of England (Northumberland, North and South Tyneside, Newcastle, Gateshead, Sunderland and County Durham).

*Please note: the ‘Sustainable Sunderland: Coastal Cities Innovation Lab’ programme is specifically targeted at Sunderland-based creative practitioners/organisations.


The programme will be delivered at the University of Sunderland [final venue to be confirmed]

How do I sign up / find out more?


Further details can are available here: Call for Applicants – Coastal Cities Innovation Lab

For an informal chat about the programme or to submit a short Expression of Interest (EOI), please email with the email title ‘Coastal Cities Innovation Lab’ in the first instance.

The EOI should contain:

  • Full business contact details
  • Name of the lead contact
  • UTR or Company Registration Number
  • Company Structure
  • Trading start date
  • Number of employees
  • Brief description of your practice / your organisation’s core activities
  • Brief statement about how this programme will support your values and your business development (max 400 words)


[Image: Ryhope beach, Sunderland, courtesy of Amanda Ritson]






Dr Suzy O'Hara

Lecturer in Digital Arts and Enterprise, Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries

Amanda Ritson

Programme Manager, Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries