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Americans hail DigitalCity

05 November 2008


Teesside’s bid to create a digital industry hub through the ambitious DigitalCity project is attracting attention from the United States, with a top-level visit to see the initiative in action.

Secretary of Louisiana Economic Development Stephen Moret visited Middlesbrough together with Dr Stacey Simmons, Executive Director of the Baton Rouge Area Digital Industries Consortium (BRADIC) to find out how the University, Middlesbrough Council and local development agencies were working with creative industries to help revitalise the North East’s economy.

Dr Simmons, who is based at Louisiana State University (LSU), was involved in the State’s recent ‘capture’ of the Electronic Arts (EA) QA Centre, the first in the US. EA is one of the largest game developers and publishers in the world.

The visit was part of the state of Louisiana's push to become recognised as a leader in digital media and entertainment in a similar way to Teesside and the wider North East region in England.

The Americans met Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Enterprise) Professor Cliff Hardcastle, Dr Jim Terkeurst, Director Institute of Digital Innovation, together with representatives of Digital City Business and Dr Derek Simpson, Dean of the award-winning School of Computing, to find out how DigitalCity interfaces with University.

During the visit, Mr Moret said: ‘There are a lot of similarities between Teesside and Louisiana. Both are trying to complement their traditional industrial base by creating high-growth digital sectors which offer job opportunities for graduates.’

Dr Simmons praised the Tees Valley for diversifying its economy and told Middlesbrough’s Evening Gazette newspaper: ‘In Louisiana we are trying to do the same’.

Professor Hardcastle added: ‘I believe the visit is evidence of our growing global reputation. We are developing an ongoing relationship with Louisiana and in particular with Baton Rouge. We’re both seeking to harness digital media to create jobs and wealth in the local community.’

During the tour, the US visitors saw some of the University’s showpiece facilities, most notably the Phoenix and Athena buildings, and discussed the possibility of potential partnerships. They also met some of the creative companies already established in the region, such as Ubisoft, Atomic Planet, Qurios Entertainment and Mere Mortals as well as representatives from Middlesbrough Borough Council, the regional development agency One NorthEast and Tees Valley Regeneration.

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