Our History

We began as Project North East in 1980, a challenge to the troubling economic climate the North East faced as heavy industries closed and unemployment soared.

Founded by David Irwin and David Grayson, we started life as a social enterprise initiative supporting people to start their own business, seeing it as a solution to the areas troubling reliance on the labour market and a way of strengthening the local economy. Irwin and Grayson saw enterprise development as the key to creating a strong, sustainable future for the North East.

From our inception we grew a reputation for impact and innovation in enterprise. Like us, this reputation has evolved over the years. Once focusing on the North East we now operate internationally, developing enterprise in 55 countries.

To date we have worked with over 10,000 start-ups, supported 80,000 people with their professional development and distributed £13m of funds, always staying close to our purpose of enabling real, positive social and economic change on a personal, local, national or international scale.