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A Snapshot into the North East Technology Cluster

Lee Rankin

The North East represents a key digital cluster in both the regional general economy, but also the national digital economy employing directly around 27,000 people in the sector, with particular focus in software, advertising and marketing, gaming and healthtech.
Newcastle and Sunderland clearly form the core of this regional cluster however regions such as Durham and Middlesbrough are growing quickly with new entrants such as Atom Bank. Its strong reputation for IT-based software engineering and back-office IT support business is underlined by the Global HQ presence of FTSE 100 company - Sage PLC where it was founded.
Crucially, five local universities supply plentiful tech talent which is increasingly remaining in the region post-graduation. With its strong industrial history, this is an established community with a strong sense of identity – 77% of companies report that they are part of a digital cluster. The region has traditionally shown strengths in software development and gaming; leading games developers include Ubisoft Reflections, Epic Games UK and CCP Games.
Both private and public organisations make up companies in this cluster. Over half of companies rely on local universities for training and recruitment, significantly above the national average. The area boasts a busy calendar of digital technology events, including Dynamo14, Thinking Digital, VRTGO, and The DIBI Conference, and plentiful support for digital companies at all stages of evolution. This includes Campus North, local VC Northstar Ventures, Sunderland Software City and pre-seed accelerator Ignite, which has been key to the creation of a number of digital start-ups.
The North East is an agile, growing, diverse and talent rich digital cluster which is a hot target location for many organisations outside of the region looking to find the best people. Local companies involved in the sector need to remain ahead as employers of choice in both technology and cultural terms if we are to retain the best people here in the region over the long term.
Next time a spotlight on the Yorkshire digital cluster.

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