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The IT sector – a jewel in the North East economy

June 26, 2014

People who work in Information Technology are passionate about what they do. They have a strong affinity with the region; have chosen to grow their businesses here, and are creating good quality jobs, putting the region on the map.

Over a century ago industrial pioneers such as George Stephenson, William Armstrong and Joseph Swan were also putting the region on the map with amazing inventions – the railway, hydro-electricity, and the light bulb, which still feature in our everyday lives.

Back then the North East was playing a key part in the birth of the industrial revolution.

And once again, I believe, the region is in the forefront of another revolution – an Information Revolution – fuelled not by steel or by coal but by intellect, creative thinking and technological advance – advances which make all of our lives easier.

The North East has one of the largest and fastest growing technology clusters anywhere in the UK outside of London. There are more hi tech company start-ups in the North East than in any other region.

The industry employs between 25,000 and 30,000 – 8,000 in Newcastle and Gateshead alone – with an annual turnover of £866m.

Newcastle is home to Sage Plc which employs 1,500 people locally. Three of the biggest games developers have significant bases here.

At Newcastle University’s Culture Lab they have built an Ambient Kitchen or “smart kitchen” fitted with sensors that are designed to help people with cognitive impairment, such as dementia, live independently.

The university is involved in 150 European research programmes and collaborates with more than 1,700 organisations. Its new research centre is developing emerging technologies such as grid and cloud computing in the region.

Many major brands have extensive back office ICT teams in the region, including British Airways, the AA, and Hewlett Packard. HMRC are opening a new digital centre in Newcastle providing digital tax services that will make it simpler and faster for people and businesses to manage their tax affairs as the Government presses ahead with Digital by Default – but what about the council? Well, we too are playing our part.

Our Go Digital Newcastle broadband programme will make Newcastle a major digital power, creating a £150m boost to the economy, protecting and creating jobs.

By providing access to superfast broadband, 97 per cent of homes and businesses in the city will be connected by the summer of 2015, making Newcastle one of the UK’s super-connected cities, with one of the fastest broadband speeds in the country. We have also launched a voucher scheme for businesses, inviting them to apply for up to £3,000 of vouchers to get connected to superfast broadband.

Compared with the South East we have low operating costs, enviable purpose-built units and a skills base that will make us an attractive region for companies to relocate to.

And for graduates there is a quality of life that they wouldn’t get anywhere else in the country. A well-paid job with an average salary of £30,000 that enables them to pay off their debts, buy a home and in time perhaps set up their own business – all of this just a short journey away from the beautiful countryside and stunning coastline.

The region is a hotbed of talent, a mix of successful start-ups and global companies backed by universities with worldwide connections in cutting edge research in computer science, medicine, renewables, creative and digital industries.

The IT sector is delivering; in high value jobs; growing the private sector; and diversifying our region’s economy. We can be proud of our IT credentials.

One Comment leave one →
  1. June 27, 2014 7:38 am

    Imagine Boris Johnson has a distinguished foreign visitor, the visitor wants to see London’s Digital Sector. Without pausing for breath, Boris makes his way to the tandem and rides the visitor over to Silicon roundabout. Voila, 5,000 small tech businesses, a technology cluster if ever there was one!

    Imagine the same distinguished foreign visitor comes to Newcastle, where do we take him? From the Civic Centre, to the Culture Lab, but where then? Where is the Hub, the Cluster?

    One route perhaps 1) Campus North – Carliol Square. 2) Generator Studios – Trafalgar St. 3) Milburn House – Dean Street. 4) Toffee Factory – Quayside. 5) I4 Quayside – Ouseburn Building. 6) Hoults Yard.

    Having enjoyed every minute of the bike ride, surveyed some of these wonderful buildings and businesses, the visitor would undoubtably be impressed, but the question remains where is the cluster? Where is the magnet, the specific location, that will draw new businesses in?

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