£12m to secure future of tech and digital in the North of Tyne

The North of Tyne Combined authority will invest £12m to boost the digital sector in Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland.

The investment, which includes £7m for a 5G and Future Connectivity fund, will be used to create jobs in a ‘digital ecosystem’ of mutually supportive tech businesses and organisations.

It will help create 600 jobs and safeguard a further 140. It will also unlock support for over 500 enterprises and 450 residents, and underpins the Combined Authority’s ambition for Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland to be a hub for inclusive innovation and world class research and development.

The Government’s Innovation strategy launched last week said the pace of technological change would make the 2020s a pivotal moment for the UK’s future prosperity.

North of Tyne leaders said the investment announced today would future proof the region’s economy, laying the foundations for further investment and growth.

It builds on previous multi-million-pound investments to improve rural internet connectivity and access to digital expertise that is already unlocking data-driven innovation and the adoption of new technologies by local businesses.

North of Tyne Cabinet Member for Clean Energy and Connectivity Cllr Richard Wearmouth said the investment was an example of ‘levelling up’ that would build the foundation for tomorrow’s digital economy.

“This will be a game changer for the region,” he said.

“It will accelerate investment in infrastructure and connectivity in the North of Tyne, supporting the industry-led innovation of our rapidly growing tech sector.

“And it will give real incentives for mobile networks and infrastructure providers to roll out super-fast wireless and fibre across Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland.

“The power of digital solutions can help countless businesses emerge from the crisis.

“From Artificial intelligence to data clouds, from Digital Innovation Hubs to ‘deep tech’ start-ups, innovation, growth and productivity, and technology will go hand in hand.”

The 5G and Future Connectivity investment will increase the pace that game-changing technologies, such as 5G, are made available and adopted by industry.

It will create an eco-system of experts to ensure the development of ‘investment ready’ pitches for significant future government funding of digital infrastructure.

This will add to the region’s reputation as an attractive place to do business, target investment, and create good jobs and will capitalise on existing expertise and emerging strengths, including in health tech and connected construction.

Plans also include providing £5m to support start ups and unlock the potential of digital and tech businesses, working with partners including Dynamo NE, Innovation Super Network, Ignite, Digital Catapult, TEDCO, Northumbria University, NGI and the Academic Health Science Network for the North East and North Cumbria (AHSN NENC)

Russ Watkins, Commercial Director at the AHSN NENC, said: “The AHSN NENC is delighted to be partnering with the Innovation Super Network and Dynamo to support the further development of an active and thriving health and care tech cluster of businesses across North of Tyne. Innovation, through the development and adoption of digital technologies, is at the heart of the NHS’s digital transformation plans to improve services, alleviate system pressures, enable earlier diagnoses of health conditions and ultimately improve population health.

“We know how difficult and complex the process of commercialising health and care tech products and services can be for SMEs and getting these adopted into the NHS. The ambition of this project is to ‘hide the wiring’ of that complexity, open up health market opportunities to SMEs and provide a seamless support system – working with our partners in the region – to accelerate the commercialisation journey of digital innovations. This pilot project presents a significant opportunity to showcase the North East’s health innovation ecosystem in practice, which brings together the expertise of our partners through this ‘Health & Care Tech Innovation Ecosystem Accelerator model’.

“It will help digital innovators to understand the current and future real world health challenges and market opportunities, facilitate collaborations with NHS partners, provide access to the expertise needed to support the development and commercialisation of their health tech products and services. We’ll be holding a number of events and educational webinars for SMEs over the coming months to introduce digital SMEs to the NHS, the ‘Innovation Pathway’ roadmap of commercialising a health innovation along with a number of market opportunities. We know these events will be in high demand, so, for any digital businesses wanting to find out more about the series of events, they should sign up to our Health Network North bulletin to ensure you are notified of these events in advance.”


North of Tyne cabinet member for Jobs, Innovation, and Growth Cllr Nick Forbes said: “The digital sector is transforming our economy and how services are delivered. That’s why we are looking to make this major investment now.

“The North of Tyne has some great assets: cutting edge research at Newcastle Helix, large digital firms like IBM in North Tyneside and hi-tech manufacturers in Northumberland. We must ensure we remain at the forefront of the digital revolution. But this investment is also about people.

“By showing confidence in our communities, businesses, and their ideas we can create the jobs of the future right here.”

This new funding builds on the combined authorities existing digital programme which has invested in rural connectivity, support to small businesses to adapt and digitise during the Covid pandemic, and to make available cutting edge data analysis, in partnership with the National Innovation Centre for Data in Newcastle.

The programme is also tackling digital exclusion by providing laptops and connectivity to schools and to people who were cut off during the Covid pandemic.

It compliments significant private sector investment in broadband infrastructure with North Sea cabling to improve international communications, and local full-fibre networks which connect people and businesses to local, national and international markets.

A report by Tech Nation in 2018 highlighted Newcastle as the seventh fastest growing tech hub in the UK.

Reports by Tech Nation and the UK Tech Cluster Group in 2021 highlighted Newcastle and the wider region as a major tech hub in the UK.

Both Newcastle and Northumbria universities play a significant regional role in the digital economy by providing graduates and post-graduates with advanced digital skills.

More than half of all digital jobs in the North East are in the North of Tyne area.

For more information, contact [email protected]

The North of Tyne Combined Authority is a combined authority with an elected mayor that was created in November 2018, when Parliament signed off on a £600 million devolution deal bringing Newcastle, Northumberland and North Tyneside councils together in an unprecedented transfer of power and investment from Westminster to the North East.

It is tasked with initiating projects to boost growth, create jobs, and create a more green, inclusive economy.

North of Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll was elected on a promise to support communities in the North of Tyne to create and build wealth, then keep that wealth in the region.