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Steering the way to growth in the North East digital sector

Stuart Lynn, Chair of the North East Digital for Growth steering group, explains how the region’s new digital strategy is being carried forward. A former Chief Technical Officer at Sage UK, Stuart went on to found Tech North East and is also Visiting Professor of Technology at the University of Sunderland.

As a huge advocate of the region and the digital sector, it is a privilege to be the Chair of the steering group which will support the development and delivery of the North East’s Digital for Growth strategy.

The Digital for Growth steering group brings together a number of highly experienced representatives from the digital and tech business community and academia to oversee the strategy, and to work with the LEP and partners in Local Authorities. Its purpose is to provide advice, advocacy and support to businesses and to the rich support ecosystem across the North East, and to work together to meet our objectives and contribute to the ongoing success of the region.

A tremendous amount of thought went into creating the Digital for Growth strategy. It has been built around the needs of the region, whilst leveraging the UK’s Industrial Strategy, the region’s Strategic Economic Plan and the Local Industry Strategy, and the four core ‘enabling pillars’ of the strategy have been carefully chosen for maximum impact.

So, how do we know what success will look like for our digital sector?

My personal ambition is for the North East to have a burgeoning digital tech sector that is recognised and acclaimed nationally and internationally as an exemplar of digital innovation, business creation and regional prosperity.

As delivery of the strategy gains momentum, I would expect to see more investment across the sector, from within and outside of the region. This will help accelerate growth and deliver more success.

I would also expect to see the current skills gap closing and that we create significantly more opportunities for people looking to start their career in sector, and that we retain key skills in the North East rather than people having to leave the region in pursuit of career progression. This is an important agenda for most if not all regional sectors and one which our academic partners in collaboration with industry will play a key role in addressing.

And, I would expect to see an upsurge in positive news stories covering regional success and more North East companies receiving accolades, locally, nationally and internationally.

Collaborative partnership is the ‘secret sauce’ to future success and we already have many notable organisations working for the benefit of the sector. The emergence of the Digital for Growth strategy provides a great opportunity to further support and amplify the initiatives that are already in flight, as well as introduce some new ones.

As a region, we have a history of innovation and creativity which defines us. We have a strength of character and we’re not scared of hard work. These values are as strong across the digital sector today as they were when the North East led the world in engineering, mining and shipbuilding.

I’m certain that by getting behind this strategy, as I know the region can, we will see many more digital tech start-up businesses being formed, more start-ups will become scale-ups, and more large corporations will choose to invest in the North East. This will ultimately create an abundance of new opportunities and put the North East on the national and international map as a major digital powerhouse.

Stuart Lynn, Chair, North East Digital for Growth steering group.