MIDDLESBROUGH, England--()--WITH a country deep in recession and the North East hit hard, particularly with the decline of traditional industries, DigitalCity Innovation (DCI) at Teesside University can reveal that it puts £20m back into the economy annually through job creation
“We’ve looked closely into what the Tees Valley and wider North East need in terms of skilled graduates, and which areas of business are growing.”
Through a programme of fellowships which support fledgling businesses, and by fostering relationships with local industry, DCI has directly created at least 265 jobs and 190 companies since 2008.
Laura Woods, head of academic enterprise at Teesside University, said: “We’ve looked closely into what the Tees Valley and wider North East need in terms of skilled graduates, and which areas of business are growing.
“What is clear is that digital technologies are growing hugely in the region but previously there hasn’t been an infrastructure to support that growth.
“These figures show DCI is working. A cluster of digital businesses has been built up in the North East and there are talented graduates and postgraduates being produced to work in these businesses.”
DCI focuses on making sure that the region captures the talent and skills of graduates in digital and computing through new business and job creation.
Dr Andrew Dean, 32, of Middlesbrough, set up his company, Spartan Nano, in 2009. Following a MSc in Biotechnology from Teesside University he found out about the DCI fellowships and applied for a place.
He said: “I was doing postdoctoral research and was interested in looking at the commercial applications of the technology I was investigating.
“It is often very difficult for those working in science to get funding to set up businesses - the UK lags behind the rest of the world in this area.
“So the first thing which attracted me to DCI was the fact I got help with start-up costs, in addition to developing our capabilities in the digital design of complex reaction mechanisms.”
Spartan Nano, based in Redcar, offers commercial services in biophysical science research. There is a full-time team of five staff members who carry out work for a range of multi-national clients.
Mark Hill, technical director of DCI at Teesside University, explained how the initiative works. He said: “DCI is becoming integral to the business landscape of the North East, which is something unusual for an academic institution. But we recognise it is pointless churning out skilled graduates if there is nowhere for them to go to work in the region.”
The DigitalCity Innovation at Teesside University project is part financed by the European Regional Development Fund programme 2007 to 2013. The Department for Communities and Local Government is the managing authority for the European Regional Development Fund Programme, which is one of the funds established by the European Commission to help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support local businesses and create jobs. For more information visit www.communities.gov.uk/erdf