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A digital future for the Tees Valley

22 July 2005


Nearly 300 new jobs and 130 new companies will be created by 2010 as the result of an Institute of Digital Innovation (IDI) to be built by the University of Teesside with support from One NorthEast.

Institute of Digital Innovation - Artists ImpressionToday's announcement of the first and integral part of DigitalCity aims to put the Tees Valley at the forefront of digital technologies with a world-class reputation for excellence in areas such as computer animation and creating virtual learning environments.

DigitalCity, a bold economic regeneration project developed by a partnership involving One NorthEast, the University of Teesside, Tees Valley Partnership and Middlesbrough Council, will create a vibrant and successful super-cluster of digital technology and digital media enterprises that will play a key role in the overall economic regeneration of the Tees Valley.

Existing digital businesses in the Tees Valley and throughout the North East will benefit from DigitalCity as will potential new start-up businesses, including many spin-out companies set up by staff and graduates from the University.

The project will also develop collaborative activity from across the region, with other science and technology centres, including the recently unveiled Science City in Newcastle, NaREC in Blyth, Netpark in Durham and The Wilton Centre in Redcar and Cleveland.

Regional development agency One NorthEast is contributing up to £6 million through the Tees Valley Partnership of the £11m investment for the IDI, with additional funding coming from the University of Teesside. The IDI will be based on the University of Teesside's Middlesbrough campus and the DigitalCity office at the University will manage the project.

Alan Clarke, Chief Executive of One NorthEast, said: "The University of Teesside has a growing reputation in the digital media and technology sector and this exciting programme will ensure that this academic excellence is converted into business creation and growth putting the Tees Valley at the forefront of digital technologies.

"Jobs in digital technology are already replacing jobs lost in more traditional industries and are widely recognised as being a strong part of the future economy of the Tees Valley. DigitalCity will attract and retain the major talent in the region that is crucial for the economic growth of the North East."

Tees Valley and ONE North EastInvestment by One NorthEast, as part of its economic development programme to the region, will enable the construction of the IDI - a high quality building on the University of Teesside campus that will be the hub of activity. It will house high-tech facilities for research and innovations in digital media and digital technology that will be brought to the market through new or existing companies.

The building will have four floors specifically incorporating business accommodation, commercialisation space, concept testing and shared development facilities for research between business and academia. Work will start early next year on the IDI. It will be located next to the Innovation and Virtual Reality Centre at the University of Teesside with an expected completion date of summer 2007.

Professor Graham Henderson, Vice-Chancellor of University of Teesside, said: "The DigitalCity initiative is hugely important for the University of Teesside and we are delighted that the regional development agency One NorthEast, is backing this exciting new development.

"We are building the Institute of Digital Innovation as the first phase of our plans to build on the University's pre-eminence in the area of digital media and digital technology. This is going to be a very important part of the future of the University of Teesside. It is an area of great strength for us and we look forward to using our expertise to help the regeneration of the Tees Valley by encouraging new businesses and so contributing to economic growth in this region."

Tees Valley Partnership Chief Executive John Lowther stressed the importance of the project in delivering the vision for the regeneration of the area.

He explains: "The tremendous expertise built up by the University of Teesside in the digital and multi-media fields provides a superb foundation for the DigitalCity project. At the heart of the Partnership's blueprint for our future is the need to widen and diversify our economic base and that will only be achieved if we are able to maximise our opportunities in this and other 21st Century business sectors such as the development of renewable energy technologies."

Initial development funds provided by One NorthEast through the Tees Valley Partnership has enabled the appointment of a DigitalCity Development Team and the launch of smaller initiatives.

These include the DigitalCity Fellowships scheme which provides financial support and expertise to graduates, alumni, junior staff, regional artists and creative producers to develop their business ideas. This scheme will continue to grow inside the IDI.

Among the talented graduates to form their own digital media companies thanks to the scheme are Onisoft, Seed Animation, Fake Believe and MoShine, a new graduate company who won the best new company award at the DigitalCity Fellowships 2005 exhibition and have been commissioned to do the graphics for the DigitalCity DVD.

Professor Graham Henderson, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Teesside, Janice Webster, DigitalCity Project Director, Alan Clarke, Chief Executive of One NorthEastJanice Webster, DigitalCity Project Director explained: "By 2010 our goal is to create a self-sustaining project boasting world-class people and projects with a brand that is a byword for innovation, daring and excellence."

IDI is one of the major projects that will comprise the ongoing programme of DigitalCity. The next proposed phase is for the development of a creative industries quarter by the Middlesbrough Town Centre Company, which would see the refurbishment of Victorian buildings around Middlesbrough railway station and would complement the IDI by helping to accommodate commercial activity spinning out of the Institute of Digital Innovation.

Councillor Dave Budd, Middlesbrough Council Executive Member of Regeneration, said: "DigitalCity is one of the most exiting projects being developed for the Tees Valley. It will contribute to the transformation of the area and establish it at the core of the emerging digital media and technology sectors.

"The opportunities for business development and job creation, which will help retain the brightest and best talent in the area, are immense. We look forward to continuing to work with the University of Teesside and other DigitalCity partners for the successful delivery of the whole DigitalCity programme."

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