In recent years the North East’s Tech and Digital sector has certainly made waves across the globe and the region is looking to further stamp its mark on the sector.
We have seen rapid growth in the sector and now have the fastest growing tech cluster outside of London. By 2020, it is estimated that the IT economy in the North East will be worth around £1.1bn. This has been helped by tech giants such as Sage and innovative FinTech companies such as Atom Bank choosing to locate and expand in the North East.
Just this week, Tech City released the Tech Nation 2017 report which illustrated the strength of the North East tech scene and how it is fast becoming a powerhouse of digital innovation and at the forefront of technological advances. Both Newcastle and Sunderland were highlighted as areas of major growth within the UK; Newcastle ranks second in the UK for the highest percentage of high-growth digital businesses at 22% (2014) and ranks highly with digital skills whilst Sunderland has the third highest digital turnover growth in the UK at 101% (2011-2015).
So how has the North East managed to carve such a significant presence in the Tech and Digital sector?
As well as having an abundance of skills and access to significant and growing markets, one of our unique strengths is that the North East has a joined up approach to business collaboration. At every event I attend, speakers and delegates all talk enthusiastically about the collaboration and openness to share ideas created by the North East tech sector. Business support networks such as Dymano, Digital Union and the North East Digital Catapult, have an extensive event schedule and meet on a regular basis to discuss key initiatives and how to drive forward the tech sector in the North East, ensuring it remains a digital hotbed for digital innovation.
Last week I attended an event on the National Institute of Smart Data and Innovation (NISDI) – a £30m centre which will be based at Science Central, Newcastle upon Tyne. NISDI will bring together industry, the public sector and world-leading academics to develop the skills, ideas and resources needed to exploit the opportunities offered by the explosion in digital data.
What struck me in the room was that everyone was speaking from the same page.
There was much excitement with discussions revolving around bringing together private sector companies with academics to help solve real life challenges within industry and providing companies with the right skills and understanding of digital data in order to unleash the huge potential for innovation and increased productivity.
This national centre, as well as others, is testament to what the North East can offer students, to create career paths and retain valued skills in the region. Our universities have always offered world class research facilities, but exciting new initiatives such as Newcastle Science Central enhance the region’s offer and appeal for future generations to stay in the North East, and also attract high calibre students from further afield. As one delegate in the room said, ‘’people don’t relocate to a region for a job; they relocate for a career path – the second or third job in the chain is as important as the first.’’ The North East can now offer people a full career in the IT and Digital sector and the infrastructure of support is improving year on year.
Having NISDI in the North East further cements the region as a leader in IT and innovation, it also reinforces the importance of working together. The region is all together in sharing one vision; to ensure that the North East continues to be at the forefront of digital innovation and a tech hotspot that encourages business growth, attracts further investment, and helps to deliver skills and jobs of the future.
Business Support Executive