Current press around the Northern Powerhouse has had the connectivity plans for the region labelled as a “joke” saying that the North is often neglected in favour of more southern regions.
Whether this be true or false, we know for sure that our region is one worth talking about, and we wanted to highlight how the North East is a place full of business opportunity and digital strength.
Our HQ is situated in Newcastle, and we’ve got nothing but love for the region that has also been our startup home. But, over the 5 years that we’ve been around we’ve come to realise that the region is often unsung for its talent and opportunities in comparison to other parts of the nation.
Although Tech North is made up of Newcastle, Sunderland, Leeds, Sheffield, Hull, Manchester and Liverpool, the North West don’t do too badly in terms of recognition. For example, the most major tech awards for the ‘north’ are held in Manchester, with the majority of the awards often going to Manchester and North West based agencies.
At last year’s Big Chip awards, 16 of the 18 awards went to agencies in the North West, 11 of those being Manchester, with only 1 winner from the North East, and 1 from Leeds. Similarly, although a little less weighted, at the Northern Digital Awards 2015, 13 out of the 21 awards went to winners located in the North West, with 2 going to the North East.
The Northern Digital Awards 2016 has already been held, with 10 out of 17 awards going to agencies based in the North West, this time with no North East winners, but 5 for Leeds and 1 for Sheffield.
This is in no way to say that the North West are not deserving of these awards, because they absolutely are, Manchester has established itself as one of the leading tech clusters, some of the digital work being produced is amazing, but so is a lot of the work in the North East.
It could be the case that not many North East based agencies are applying, which will play a vital part in the results, and if they aren’t, why aren’t they? But nevertheless, the figures are difficult to ignore.
While this doesn’t strictly have anything to do with segmentation of funding for the Northern Powerhouse, it does indicate that stronger connection links are needed. In this respect alone, the North East isn’t currently being fairly represented as a part of the growing northern tech region against its more celebrated northern neighbours, and it should be.
Tech Nation Report 2016
Tech industries on a whole are growing 32% faster than the rest of the UK economy, and as the Tech Nation report released last month for 2016 revealed, digital industries in particular had sustained growth in Newcastle and Durham at 29% and 44% in Sunderland.
Digital business in the North East is thriving, and in tow is supporting the digitisation of other industries. This is part of what we do at Gospelware, by listening to the needs of a business, we construct digital strategies and solutions that will transform how they currently do things.
With this in mind though, it’s important that businesses in the region connect and we continually aim on coming together with other industries to offer our digital services, and opportunity being key for this to happen.
While we may be singular as a sector, what the sector is capable of is very broad. Every kind of business needs the incorporation of digital in some way, this is now the world that we live in. Companies like ours bridge that gap, and take not just our sector forward, but also the region in the supporting of non-digital businesses too.
We attended a new event in March 2016 called Get Digital, an event that has been created to celebrate the growth of the North East’s digital sector. Here, not only can digital and creative companies showcase their work, but non-digital businesses are encouraged to attend to connect with the region’s digital sector.
Events such as these are allowing companies to meet face to face. People don’t need to go to southern regions to get really good digital work, and these events will allow people to become aware of the opportunities and resources that exist in the North East, right on their doorstep.
Coming together like this, retaining talent and sharing opportunity will enable the North East to continue to grow in strength by recognising primarily ourselves as a strong region. Hopefully this will then encourage us to be seen throughout the rest of the nation as a vital piece of the North’s success puzzle, and something that every region in the North is responsible for recognising in each other.