Creative North event in Gateshead draws together best of region's digital talent

Our Digital Playground aimed at helping pioneering firms get to grips with each other's work while making valuable connections in Gateshead

Our Digital Playground at the Arch, Brandling Street Gateshead, Clarissa Wison and Angela Tuplin of NEdisplay
Our Digital Playground at the Arch, Brandling Street Gateshead, Clarissa Wison and Angela Tuplin of NEdisplay

Around 50 of the region’s top creative and digital media companies gathered in Gateshead for an event designed to showcase the wealth of talent and innovation in the sector.

Organised by Creative North - a campaign centred on encouraging young people to remain in the North to pursue creative careers - Our Digital Playground featured the likes of the Wallsend-based VREO, which has produced an HD camera that fits into a memory stick, and Teesside University spin-out Spearhead, which demonstrated a new 3D virtual reality product.

One of the region’s most renowned games designers, Eutechnyx, also had a stand, showcasing the company’s new Auto Club Revolution racing game.

“Every six months, we’re highlighting the creative and digital media businesses that make this region great,” said Creative North founder, Rob Earnshaw.

“They can come to our office and - for no charge - can showcase what they’re doing and interact with other companies from the region.

“Something we’ve highlighted already is that, although we’ve got great companies and great people here, they can be unaware of what each other are doing. Unless you see it yourself, you don’t really know what it’s about.”

Among those present were around 20 young apprentices hoping to pursue their careers in the North East.

Later in the evening, an 20 additional businesses were represented at a further event at which the #ourcreativenorth Twitter hashtag was launched.

Our Digital Playground at the Arch, Brandling Street Gateshead
Our Digital Playground at the Arch, Brandling Street Gateshead

“We want to use that to help creative business share their stories and allow them to see what’s going on around the North,” Mr Earnshaw said.

“People could use it if they were looking for a job, for example. They can look at what’s happening here and connect to it through our brand.”

Established last year, Creative North grew out of Mr Earnshaw’s frustration with the common perception that in order to pursue careers in the creative sector young people must leave the North East for London.

By 2016, the plan is to engage 100 schools and colleges, as well as 500 creative and digital media businesses with the project. Ultimately, it is hoped 200 jobs can be created for young people within the region, with another 100 being drawn to the North through the opportunities offered.

Mr Earnshaw - originally a casting director who went on to found the National Youth Film Academy - said activities would be ramped up towards the summer in order to engage as many young people as possible.

The initiative has also teamed up with Creative Pioneers to offer apprenticeships through that brand in a partnership supported by the Institute of Practioners in Advertising.

In May, it will launch a new website, providing a free platform on which North East businesses can highlight their work.

“People are really starting to get that this is something they should get behind and that it’s something we are passionate about,” Mr Earnshaw added.

Samantha Wilcox, marketing co-ordinator for Eutechnyx, said: “Creative North is playing an incredibly important function by making apprentices, graduates and employers aware of the fantastic opportunities that exist in the North East.

“As Eutechnyx is a company focused on nurturing home-grown talent through our Level Up Graduate Academy, we’re keen to be involved in events such as #OurCreativeNorth.”

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