I was recently fortunate enough to be invited to the VRTGO Conference, held at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead. Many of you may not be familiar with the conference, as it is relatively new to the increasing programme of digital and technology conferences in the North East, but it is fast becoming one of the most high profile showcases in the world of Virtual and Augmented Reality.
It’s not a coincidence that the North East was chosen to host some of the leading figures in this fast growing industry. Whilst the region’s prominence may have passed many of us by over recent years, it is widely known in the industry that the North East is a hotbed for talent and is growing in not only national, but international significance.
The conference itself attracted speakers from technology giants NASA, Sony, Microsoft and the BBC among others. Whilst it was fantastic to hear how they are all using Virtual Reality (VR) in their businesses, the real positive for me was seeing local businesses up there on the stage outlining their plans and success in this exciting area of technology. One of these businesses is the internationally acclaimed CCP Games, with a development studio based in Gateshead, on the banks of the Tyne. From this North East base, they have developed Eve Valkrie, one of the first titles to be released for the Sony Playstation VR headset, which will be found under many a Christmas tree across the globe on Sunday.
The success of CCP Games is only one example of some of the cutting edge technology being developed here, quite often under the radar. There are too many others to list on this occasion, but as the father of two young children, it is incredibly satisfying to know that when the time comes for them to choose a career path, the North East provides a range of opportunities in what many would deem non-traditional industries. I’m not sure who coined the phrase “from coal to code”, when describing the strength of the digital sector in the region, but it has never been more true.
Next year will see the launch of the Northern Centre for Emerging Technologies on Gateshead’s Baltic Business Quarter, which will add further strength to the sector in addition to some of the assets already found here, such as the Digital Catapult, North East Satellite Application Centre and recently announced National Institute for Smart Data.
The digital and tech sector is something the team here at Invest North East England is working hard to grow and promote, alongside our public and private sector partners. We have some genuine strengths in this area and it is a pleasure to raise the profile of the North East. Here’s to a successful 2017!
Inward Investment Manager