DURING the recession, it is perhaps more important than ever that businesses strive to innovate in order to flourish.
As the regionally economy begins to recover in global accordance, it is cutting-edge SMEs which have been able to explore new markets, refining skills in science and technology along the way, who will emerge as the beacon carriers of a new age of enterprise for the North East. Our hopes must therefore rest in the current environment not being so hostile that such fledgling companies simply fail to find their feet.
Fortunately, the region has an infrastructure founded upon innovation, and local businesses have a canny knack of nurturing ideas and seeing them through to fruition. From Stephenson’s Rocket, to the first electric light on Mosley Street in Newcastle, ideas are what the North East has been built on and have been the bedrock of our region for centuries.
In 2010, innovators from our cities and towns are forging ahead in many areas of innovation, continuing our long-standing affairs with science and technology. Alongside established innovation connectors including Newcastle Science City and Digital City in Teesside, Sunderland Software City (SSC) is now aiming to develop an internationally- recognised, innovative and sustainable software industry, which will foster a range of businesses that have started in the North East, or have been attracted here to grow.
The programme, which is being delivered by the North East Business and Innovation Centre (BIC), Sunderland City Council and the University of Sunderland, will create a culture of vibrancy and entrepreneurialism – a supportive environment where individuals and businesses are encouraged to grow and develop, and are supported along the way.
The Sunderland Software City initiative is benefiting from over £6.5m of European Union investment from the ERDF Competitiveness Programme 2007-13, secured through regional development agency One North East. The ERDF programme is bringing over £300m into the North East to support innovation, enterprise and business support across the region.
As part of the SSC project, a new £1m development is set to open its doors at the North East BIC in late spring.
In response to demand from companies and individuals who have already been assisted via the project, the Jupiter Centre at the BIC has been designed to create an ideal base for fledgling and expanding software companies.
Bernie Callaghan, Chief Executive Officer of SSC said: “The Jupiter Centre is a major element of the larger infrastructure strategy of the Software City project and offers an ideal location in terms of both technical specification and support services for software companies in the region. The site will also help to enhance the existing software community by providing a focus for support from SSC and its partners.”
The North East BIC itself also has a long history of contributing to an enterprising culture in the region, and is currently home to a host of recognised innovators, including Louise Allcroft (pictured) of Complement Genomics Ltd, and up and coming technology businesses such as iRepair Ltd, a small new company with big ideas: the duo behind the enterprise are aiming to develop it into the UK’s premier Apple product repair centre, eventually employing a team of engineers.
Harry Nicholson, director, said: “We have big plans for the business which include moving to bigger premises on site at the BIC and taking on new staff members, but we expected this to be years down the line. The good news is that if the current demand continues, we’re going to be able to bring these plans forward and expand the business within the first half of 2010.”