A GOVERNMENT Minister has forecast huge growth and 13,800 more jobs in the region’s tech sector by the year 2025.
Speaking at the launch of the North of Tyne Combined Authority’s (NTCA) £10m Digital Growth and Innovation Programme, Chris Philp MP, Minister for Technology and the Digital Economy, predicted a bright future for the north east’s tech sector – thanks to the way it continues to collaborate.
North of Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll opened the launch event at The Core inside Newcastle’s Helix building yesterday.
Jamie, a former software programmer, listed recent job announcements at incoming new global tech companies such as Monstarlabs, Version1 and Arctic Wolf, and praised ambitious local companies such as Opencast and Scott Logic.
He outlined his ambition for the sector and the region: “I don’t want to talk about levelling up, I want to talk about levelling beyond,” he said.
He praised the local tech community for the way in which it collaborates and said the new Digital Growth and Innovation Programme was right to prioritise a tech talent pipeline. “Our future success is not about coal, but mining a rich vein of tech talent,” he concluded
In his online address, the Minister said the digital economy is “the future of jobs, the future of growth, the future of productivity and is of growing geo-political significance.”
He told more than 200 in-person and virtual attendees that the newly-published Government White Paper on Levelling Up aims to spread prosperity across the UK and he will help champion the country’s tech sector to help achieve this ambition.
He said partnership working was key to success and praised local tech collaboration: “The partnerships you have made between NTCA, Sunderland Software City, Digital Catapult, Newcastle Gateshead, Dynamo, Invest Newcastle and others are a fundamental part of the region’s success and should be a model considered by others across the country.
“The great progress you have made with the NTCA digital programme is a prime example and testament of success evidenced by the GDA of the region’s digital sector growing four times faster than the overall regional economy.”
He added that such success isn’t just making a real difference to the economy, but to people’s lives: “The future really does look bright for this region.
“Analysis provided for a digital ecosystems report suggested the North East has the potential to grow by at least £460m in annual GDA by 2025 and to create an additional 13,800 jobs.
“I have no doubt that through the hard work of NTCA and its partners this potential will be realised.”
After the Minister’s speech a panel of five business leaders joined North of Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll to answer questions from attendees. Panellists included Lisa Cooney, Product and Service Manager at Trendbible; Matthew Lumsden, CEO at Connected Energy; Helga Alvarez, CTO at Leaf; James Hall, Executive Director at Monstarlabs and Rob Hamilton, Chief Economist at NTCA. Susan Bell, former Waterstons Chief Executive who is working with NTCA on the programme, chaired the panel.
The £10m programme includes significant investment to support start ups and unlock the potential of digital and tech businesses. The programme is already working through its partnerships to offer knowledge, expertise and support to a range of businesses, from starts up to well-established successful businesses.
After consulting with partners and businesses across the sector, NTCA identified several key enablers of a healthy tech economy including talent availability, a strong start-up scene and thriving community, inward investment success, focused support to innovate using tech and clear pathways and support for high growth potential businesses.
Speaking after the launch, Rob Hamilton said: “It was a brilliant launch event and it was so encouraging to see so many people there, representing so many great tech companies and organisations, both large and small.
“It was interesting to hear global perspectives, but also personal stories.
“The programme aims to create jobs and opportunities, but also to highlight the importance of the regional tech sector and to raise its profile even further.”