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North East England’s digital sector has a lot to shout about

October 19, 2020

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By Rachel Burdis, Inward Investment Manager, Invest North East England

At the end of September, the first of 12 UK Tech cluster reports was released, with the focus being on North East England. The report highlighted our region as a hotspot for immersive technology, artificial intelligence and industry 4.0 as well as bringing attention to the number of innovative companies, support organisations and facilities in the region.

This report along with others recently released, such as Digital Union’s One Region, One Sector, One Statement and Tech Nation’s 2020 Report has provided regional insights and has helped paint a picture of the tech and digital scene in the region.

At Invest North East England, we aim to highlight the region’s key assets, expertise and capabilities to potential investors and support them with relocating or expanding here.

With a wealth of information out there about how the sector is faring in this part of the world, this article looks a little closer at exactly what the North East can offer investors.

Top performing

Firstly, it’s worth noting that the North East is the top performing area in England outside of London for inward investment and our Digital and Tech sector is making waves with its world class innovation and global reach.

However, stats don’t tell the full story and it’s important to look at the specialist facilities, academic expertise and dedicated support networks available to tech investors.

The North East, whilst being a smaller location than major cities such as London and Manchester, is leading the way when it comes to facilities and centres of excellence.

Benefiting from two science parks – NETPark, located in Durham and Newcastle Helix, it also has two national innovation centres (in data and ageing) as well as numerous centres of excellence in cyber security, satellite applications and digital construction – all of which work with investors to support them with projects, contacts and R&D.

Skilled workforce

Availability of a skilled workforce is always a major factor for any business looking at where to locate.  Recent investments show that businesses have the confidence to grow here and attract the right talent.  For example, the BBC announced it is creating a Tech Hub in Newcastle.  Newcastle was decided as a location for the BBC because of its collaboration and innovation, two world class universities and a growing digital cluster.

Our tech eco-system is enhanced by our five universities and their world-leading research excellence in computer science and informatics.  There are over 52,000 Science Technology Economics and Mathematics (STEM) students across five universities and the region has the highest proportion of students studying computer science in England.

North East universities are some of the best in the UK and provide qualifications and training relevant to the main industry sectors, as well as playing key roles in driving research and development, helping support innovation through knowledge and initiatives, and providing platforms for spin out companies.

The North East is tackling the well known skills challenge with centres such as the National Innovation Centre for Data (NICD) and PROTO, and specialist networks like Digital Union and Dynamo North East working with organisations to strengthen current and future talent pipelines. Meaning the region is well placed to provide skilled people for a variety of roles.

Combine this with our low attrition rates and the 5 universities working to upskill industry ready graduates and its clear why global companies of all sizes set up here, and why the likes of Sage and tombola are home-grown successes.

The right office space

In terms of office space, our region benefits from a wide range of suitable options for tech & digital companies; from city centre creative hubs designed for collaboration and small studio space for games developers, to larger floor plates for software development companies and bespoke built offices.

Support networks

With its unique support network, the North East is the perfect environment to welcome investors seeking to take advantage of the superb tech offering within the region and accelerating their business growth. Accenture, Ubisoft and Red Hat are among the largest tech inward investors in the North East, but SMEs also thrive here.

Networks such as Innovation SuperNetwork, Dynamo North East, Digital Union, Sunderland Software City, Sphere Network, and the Digital Catapult North East and Tees Valley all offer superb events, training and tailored business support to investors.  They combine academic research, cross-sector industry experience, innovation, and dedicated business support.

It’s not just about the facilities, networks and people though. Acclaimed as “the most exciting, beautiful and friendly region in the whole of England” by the Lonely Planet Bluelist, our region is a hidden gem. There are few places in the world where you can go for a surf in the morning and then be in a city centre for a 9am meeting.

With all of these great incentives, plus a dedicated team at Invest North East England to support with information and contacts, it’s now even easier for tech and digital companies to expand their operations into this small but mighty region.

To find out more information about locating a digital business to North East England, contact me today – e. t. + 44 (0)734 206 9367

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