AMERICAN design agency Fueled is taking its first steps into Europe by setting up an office in Gateshead.
The New York-based firm has signed a three-year deal for 452 square feet of space in the Northern Design Centre, the £9.9m development on Gateshead Quays.
Lead designer Rob Palmer said the Gateshead base would be used to carry out design work for the company, initally for its US clients. However, it is also looking to open a London office this year which will help it gather up clients based in the UK.
“My boss wanted to open a UK site, and I was talking to him about the North East and Newcastle, and how there’s scope to set up business in the area”, he said. “It’s a great opportunity. There are a lot of agencies around, but no one is standing out as the leading agency yet.
“The business plan at the moment is that the North East office is going to work on outside business from the States. The idea behind the London agency is to start building the number of UK clients. When the London office opens up, that will also feed Gateshead.”
Fueled has carried out work for international companies such as Porsche, MTV, Ducati and Malibu, and has a team including UI designers, iOS and web developers, and an animation team. Its project managers and developers are Manhattan-based, while it has a small Android team in Chicago.
Palmer said: “We’re looking for another two or three designers to work out of the Newcastle office. We’re aiming to expand quickly, but we want to keep our team at around eight to 10 from a design point of view.”
As well as apps, Fueled builds web products, mobile sites, videos, animations, branding and Facebook apps.
“We offer a wide range of services”, said Palmer. “There’s also a big transition right now toward websites being a secondary system for users and mobile being the primary.”
The Northern Design Centre was built with help from £4.95m in funding from the European Union’s European Regional Development Fund Competitiveness Programme 2007-13, and features superfast broadband, free parking, a gaming lounge and fixed rates in a bid to attract creative businesses.
Gateshead Council leader Mick Henry said: “Northern Design Centre is a significant investment in the continued success of our digital and creative sector, a sector that I’m sure will play an ever greater role in our region’s economy. The centre is specifically designed to meet the pent-up demand for creative business space here in the North East.”