Future looking bright for North East digital

The digital industry in the North East is celebrating the new year in high spirits.

DigitalCity Business in Tees Valley secured a 1.6m investment at the end of last year to start an inspirational project aiming to develop a digital business hub in the region.

All of this is part of an exciting £300m investment that’s being brought to the North East by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) Competitiveness Programme 2007-13.

High ambitions

The business hub project, which is part of the Digital City initiative – a joint Middlesborough Council and Teesside University venture – isn’t showing a lack of ambition in terms of its objectives.

By March 2012, the aim is to have 20 new firms up and running and a further 20 with high growth potential.

By 2015, they want to have increased DigitalCity Business’ turnover by 20% and international trade by 75%, creating 160 jobs in the process.

They also plan to support 424 companies to prosper, 80 people to further their skills development as well as attracting six new businesses to the region.

Thriving innovation

The biggest chunk of the money (£810,000) is coming from the ERDF Competitiveness Programme 2007-13. Regional development agency One North East, who manages the programme, is chipping in with £480,000 and Middlesborough Council with £370,000.

Mark Elliott, director of DigitalCity Business, said that the funding enables high-quality specialist support for small and medium-sized businesses in the region.

“Creating the right business environment to help companies thrive is the essential next step of DigitalCity Business”, he said.

“Through the ERDF funding, we can now deliver high quality, appropriate specialist support for SMEs at pre-start, start-up or whatever stage and whatever growth signature.

“Leading the networking and collaboration capability of the cluster is integral as is developing national and international business opportunities and working to bring inward investment to the cluster.”

There might be a few glitches standing in the way of the North East’s digital dream.

News about the DigitalCity Business investment comes at a time when the North East Chamber of Commerce (NECC) has raised concerns about the region’s digital infrastructure.

According to an article by The Northern Echo, NECC has urged the Government to swiftly upgrade the infrastructure to ensure businesses can continue to grow.

Mark Stephenson, the policy advisor at NECC, said that digital infrastructure is of paramount importance to the region’s businesses.