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Securing future of tech and digital in the North East

11th August 2021

Northumbria University has been named as part of a multi-million-pound investment that will help boost the region’s tech and digital sector.

The North of Tyne Combined Authority has announced that it will invest £12m to boost the digital sector in Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland.

The investment, which includes £7m for a 5G and Future Connectivity fund, will be used to create jobs in a ‘digital ecosystem’ of mutually supportive tech businesses and organisations.

It will help create 600 jobs and safeguard a further 140. It will also unlock support for over 500 enterprises and 450 residents and underpins the Combined Authority’s ambition to be a hub for inclusive innovation and world class research and development.

Plans also include providing £5m to support start-ups and unlock the potential of digital and tech businesses, working with partners including Northumbria University, Dynamo NE, Innovation Super Network, Ignite, Digital Catapult, TEDCO, NGI and the Academic Health Science Network.

Northumbria plays a significant regional role in the digital economy by providing graduates and post-graduates with advanced digital skills, as well as contributing to research and innovation. For example, the Northumbria-led International Centre for Connected Construction (IC3) is a centre of excellence for digital construction fostering world leading research in collaboration with industry and the public sector.

Professor Rebecca Strachan, Deputy Faculty Pro-Vice Chancellor (Engineering and Environment) at Northumbria University, said: “We are delighted to be part of this investment to expand the region’s digital sector. Northumbria will particularly focus on using our digital construction expertise and the International Centre for Connected Construction to support spin outs and digital innovation among both new and existing construction businesses.”

North of Tyne leaders said the investment would future proof the region’s economy, laying the foundations for further investment and growth.

It builds on previous multi-million-pound investments to improve rural internet connectivity and access to digital expertise that is already unlocking data-driven innovation and the adoption of new technologies by local businesses.

North of Tyne Cabinet Member for Clean Energy and Connectivity, Councillor Richard Wearmouth, said the investment was an example of ‘levelling up’ that would build the foundation for tomorrow's digital economy.

“This will be a game changer for the region,” he said. “It will accelerate investment in infrastructure and connectivity in the North of Tyne, supporting the industry-led innovation of our rapidly growing tech sector.

“From Artificial Intelligence to data clouds, from Digital Innovation Hubs to ‘deep tech' start-ups, innovation, growth and productivity, and technology will go hand in hand.”

A report by Tech Nation in 2018 highlighted Newcastle as the seventh fastest growing tech hub in the UK. Reports by Tech Nation and the UK Tech Cluster Group in 2021 highlighted Newcastle and the wider region as a major tech hub in the UK.

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