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North of Tyne cabinet members agree £10 million boost to digital economy

Up to 500 new jobs could be created after politicians agreed to invest £10 million in the North of Tyne’s digital economy.

The cash boost represents 17 per cent of the budget over the next three years – the North of Tyne Combined Authority’s biggest spending commitment since it was set up in November 2018.

Between 2020-23 funds will be spent on investing in small and medium-sized businesses, training hundreds of people in digital skills alongside the private sector and growing the digital sector with new business start-ups and business acceleration programmes.

The Cabinet agreed to the investment yesterday (January 28), which comes days after the BBC Director General praised Newcastle as a city “looking for fresh ideas, collaboration and innovation,” and announced a new tech centre to create the next generation of software engineers, product developers and data scientists.

Research published earlier this month revealed Newcastle is the top UK city when it comes to making use of technology assets to win business, improve systems and attract the best talent.

More than half of all digital jobs in the North East are in the North of Tyne area. The Combined Authority hopes to maintain the rapid progress with this latest investment.

Cabinet member for business competitiveness, Cllr Nick Forbes, welcomed the proposal.

Councillor Forbes, who is also leader of Newcastle City Council, said: “We can’t be an analogue region in a digital world if we are to compete successfully at home and abroad.

“Big data, cloud computing and 5G give us new opportunities to create jobs and grow our economy, that’s why we are looking to make this major investment now.

“Our devolution negotiations with Government were all about people. This investment underlines that by showing confidence in our communities, businesses, and their ideas we which can use to create the jobs of the future right here in our region.”

North of Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll added: “We want to have decent jobs in the North of Tyne area so that people don’t have to move down to Leeds or London.”

It’s estimated the £10 million funding will attract a further £25 million of private sector investment.

£1.5 million of the £10 million will be targeted at small and medium-sized businesses to help them adopt digital systems and work practices.