The North East's diverse and flourishing digital tech sector has companies specialising in fields as varied as game development, app & software development and data management & analytics (North LEP, Tech City UK, Auxin). The region's reputation as a tech hub is growing and we, at ZeroLight, are proud to be adding to the region's engineering heritage as software engineers and makers of digital content and products.
If you're a part of the North East tech scene or thinking of joining it as an employee, start-up or established business then you might find our summary below a great starting point for learning more.
There are an estimated 1500 tech companies operating in the region and the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) predicts that this could grow to 2200 firms generating £1.1bn by 2020, compared to £600m in 2015. A recent report suggests that the sector already employs around 18,000 people in Newcastle and Gateshead alone, and a GVA contribution (gross value added) double that of the national average makes it the fastest growing tech sector in the country.
Throughout the year there are a number of opportunities for the region's tech companies to showcase their work during a national and international calendar of events. Annual events include Thinking Digital (and its most recent iteration, the TDC Women's conference), VRTGO, which brings an international VR & AR community together, Dynamo's annual conference in the summer as well as trade mission opportunities presented by the Department of International Trade.
The region's universities seek to support students and graduates alike to establish businesses here in the North East through a range of schemes and events like Newcastle University's Rise Up program. Here at ZeroLight, we also work closely with universities through our talks and studio tours, welcoming the best of the region's computing graduates through our Internship Program, and contributing to university syllabuses.
For start-ups, organisations such as Ignite, based at Campus North, provide an excellent accelerator programme and Newcastle Startup Week in May will be a fantastic opportunity for entrepreneurs in the region. Businesses can find help in fulfilling their ambitions with the help of North Star Ventures, a North East-based venture capital firm which we've proudly been involved with for many years. Over in Wearside, Sunderland Software City is an excellent hub helping aspiring and established businesses and Digital Union is the largest network of digital businesses in the north east, providing regular networking, mentoring, training and guidance.
Some of the most successful tech hubs in the world, such as San Francisco, Berlin and New York have an active ecosystem of user groups, tech meetups and coding clubs that complement and feed into the innovative tech culture. The North East's tech scene enjoys a range of regular meetups including the North East Unity User Group, which we recently hosted at our studios as well as Coding Clubs and maker groups like Maker Space that introduce children to all things digital and STEM.