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The Digital Catapult, a national centre to rapidly advance the UK’s best digital ideas, has opened its new local centre in the North East of England.

The Digital Catapult Centre North East & Tees Valley will work with local businesses, universities and colleges, the public sector and two other Digital Catapult Centres across the UK to unlock value from everyday data. It showcases the North East’s increasingly prominent role as a key location for Digital businesses and employment, and will help create more and better jobs, drive innovation and deliver millions in linked investment and funding.

Digital Catapult Centre North East & Tees Valley will focus specifically on projects around the controlled delivery and security of data. It will help businesses and organisations from a wide range of sectors to understand and exploit the value of the data they generate and improve their products and services by increasing information sharing amongst businesses and organisations, opening up new business models and generating new revenue streams.

In the coming weeks, the Digital Catapult Centre North East & Tees Valley will launch a programme of challenges and events which will create opportunities for private businesses, the public sector, universities and the region’s software community to collaborate and unlock new value around these areas.

Based in Sunderland, the Digital Catapult Centre North East & Tees Valley is a partnership led by Sunderland Software City on behalf of the North East LEP and Tees Valley Unlimited. North East Universities are key partners in the consortium providing the opportunity to draw together and use expertise from across Newcastle University, Northumbria University, Durham University, University of Sunderland and Teesside University departments.

The Digital Catapult North East & Tees Valley consortia members will be working with businesses from all backgrounds to understand the data produced by businesses, public bodies and other organisations and to identify new ways to use it to improve products and services and develop business models which can generate value. In the long run this will deliver business growth, enhanced productivity and provide a magnet for new jobs in the sector. This will help to further strengthen and grow the North East’s software sector and cement the region as an internationally renowned base for data sharing innovation.

It is expected this work will help to create at least 40 new software businesses in the region over the next 3 years with an additional 150 jobs within in this sector alone and a larger employment return in the wider economy.

The Centre will also work with University partners to help develop specialist data skills and courses within the region’s further and higher education establishments, adding to the expertise and resources to make the North East at the forefront of data exploration expertise and attracting further academic and business engagement.

Neil Crockett, CEO of the Digital Catapult said: “The Digital Catapult is here to help create new opportunities across the UK and unlock innovation and value from sharing closed and proprietary data. The truth is the most exciting digital innovation is happening in local communities, like the North East & Tees Valley, who are bringing together new ideas, businesses, universities and the public sector. As a national centre, it is important we support and collaborate with these local innovation communities, it is from these local hotspots that we will find the best innovation, create the most relevant products and reap the economic benefit for the UK.”

Paul Woolston, Chairman of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership said: “The Digital Catapult Centre North East & Tees Valley is a ground breaking partnership bringing together and sharing expertise between both regional LEPs, our region’s five universities and Sunderland Software City to be at the national and international leading edge in this rapidly growing sector.

“This Centre is yet another vital initiative in our development of the region as a globally relevant and collaborative innovation eco-system. It will provide a hub for innovative problem solving, draw in partnerships, develop networks and build skills. All of these will create the “more & better jobs that the region needs. I congratulate all of those who have worked hard to bring the Digital Catapult here.”

Sandy Anderson, Chairman of Tees Valley Unlimited, the LEP for Tees Valley, said: “The Digital Catapult Centre North East and Tees Valley will help us to drive the digital revolution in our region and ensure that companies and entrepreneurs are able to capitalise on emerging opportunities in the field of data exploration and delivery, with the Digital Catapult providing us with the means, support and knowledge to bring ideas to fruition more speedily and effectively.

“The partnership will strengthen this important sector and help make the North East of England a destination of choice for new stat-ups and inward investment as well as nurturing new talent in the field.”

David Dunn, Chief Executive of Sunderland Software City said: “It is an exciting time to be a business in the North East. Our digital economy is already one of the strongest in the UK and by developing a niche specialism around the controlled delivery and security of data for commercial exploration will open up vast economic opportunities for the digital sector and the North East business community as a whole.

We are delighted to be launching the Digital Catapult Centre North East and Tees Valley which will provide a thriving, state-of-the-art hub for some of the country’s most innovative digital companies and entrepreneurs and en exciting programme of projects and innovation calls, events, business development support and corporate supporter opportunities for businesses from all backgrounds.”

Organisations and individuals who wish to get involved with the programme of activity should content the centre on [email protected]

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