A NEW digital industry centre – expected to help create thousands of jobs – is coming to Sunderland.
The Digital Catapult Centre North East & Tees Valley, due to open at Sunderland Software Centre in March, will be a base for creative and technology start-ups and small businesses.
It will allow them to develop and show off their ideas and products, as well as build links with larger businesses, universities and the public sector.
The new centre will be run by a consortium including Sunderland Software City, the North East and Tees Valley Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and Newcastle, Durham, Sunderland and Teesside Universities.
North East LEP chairman Paul Woolston said: “The North East has a growing reputation as a hub for the digital economy in the UK.
“With almost 2,000 businesses, including some of the most creative in the sector, a host of global brands, and the highest rate of start-up outside of London and South East, this is a part of our economy which we know can contribute significantly to our plans to deliver more and better jobs.
“The decision of the Digital Catapult to locate this centre in the North East and Tees Valley is hugely welcome.
“It is national acknowledgment of our current strong profile and future potential.”
The Sunderland centre will be one of three regional bases – the others in Brighton and Bradford – which will support the work of the national Digital Catapult, opened in London today by Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey.
“It is an exciting time to be a tech business in the UK,” said Mr Vaizey.
“Our digital economy is already one of the strongest markets in the world, valued at more than £100billion.
“The new Digital Catapult Centre will provide a thriving, state-of-the-art hub for some of the country’s most innovative digital companies and entrepreneurs.”
Sunderland City Council leader. Coun Paul Watson, said: “We’re absolutely delighted Sunderland’s flagship technology base Sunderland Software Centre will soon be home to one of just three physical digital innovation centres in the UK.
“Sunderland has been growing its reputation for innovation and technology and the success we have seen has been fully supported by the council, through our on-going investment in Sunderland Software City, as well as infrastructure to create the right conditions for businesses to flourish.
“To become a key focal point of an initiative that will not only support start ups and SMEs, but that will be a place in which software businesses can collaborate and share ideas, is exactly what the Sunderland Software Centre was built to achieve.
“It’s fantastic news for the city and wider North East region.”