At the heart of a new tech revolution

March 7, 2022

Words by Rachel Burdis

Inward investment manager, Invest North East England

Against a backdrop of several tech and digital companies making the region home in recent weeks and months, Rachel Burdis, inward investment manager at Invest North East England, reflects on their arrival and considers the potential for more operators to lay foundations in the area.

Recent high-profile investments have demonstrated our region’s prowess and grand ambitions to be a globally recognised tech and digital hub.

Cybersecurity and fintech clusters are organically growing.

Businesses have access to future talent pipelines, collaborative communities and support networks, and can harness funding streams and research and development expertise while utilising excellence hubs like the Newcastle Helix-based National Innovation Centre for Data.

Sunderland is at the forefront of the esports arena with the opening of a performance and education campus by The British Esports Association – a trailblazing initiative not only for the North East, but for the UK too.

Irish immersive company VRAI landed in 2020 and has gone from strength-to- strength, while Silent Games, Coconut Lizard and Coatsink were all acquired by global gaming companies in multi-million- pound deals. Our region boasts a great quality of life for workers with low-cost living and, for businesses, cost-competitive office space and a strong labour market.

Global names and successful businesses were born here, expanded here and small satellite offices have grown into recognised regional hubs.

There’s a great collaborative and entrepreneurial spirit too.

Local authorities, the North East Local Enterprise Partnership and education partners work together with industry to solve skills challenges, fund new areas of work and build centres of excellence like the National Innovation Centre for Ageing, PROTO and the Satellite Applications Centre of Excellence.

Our universities have specialist expertise, including centres for doctoral training in cloud computing for big data and fusion science and technology, enabling us to train specifically skilled people.

We’re inventors by nature – just look at our rich history in engineering.

We’re trailblazers, be it North East Local Enterprise Partnership skills initiatives, or innovation pathways boosting technology adoption.

Businesses see that, fall in love with our people and places, and trust they can make it work – and they do.

Efforts to raise our profile are bearing fruit.

Atom Bank is a great success story for Durham, the region and the UK.

Numbers are growing at Verisure, Accenture is hiring, and the BBC is opening a new digital hub.

Arctic Wolf shows businesses are being drawn to our digital and cyber sectors.

VRAI is a shining example too, providing immersive training, working in new sectors and winning contracts.

Ubisoft’s longstanding presence has attracted and inspired more games studios to set up, relocate and grow.

And more technology companies will invest here over the coming months and years; enquiries are coming thick and fast.

Throughout the pandemic, people considered how they could live differently and achieve a better work/life balance.

It’s clear that businesses and people are looking to the North East. We’re now being seen for the world-class thriving digital hub that we are. Companies born and expanding here are sharing their successes with the rest of the world and showcasing our region as the place to do business.

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