THE North East software industry has gone from strength to strength in recent years with the local new media, games and software sector now worth over £256m a year.
The growing strength of the industry in the region doesn’t mean that even the most successful businesses can’t benefit from expert support available in the region to take their company to the next level.
Sunderland Software City is the regional initiative working to continue the development of the local software sector and to make the North East the place to do business for the global software industry.
The initiative works with companies of all sizes – from the pre-start to fully-established – to give them the expertise and support to reach their full potential.
This includes everything from dedicated software specialists offering hands-on technical and business mentoring, help obtaining finance and developing business and financial plans, and introductions to potential customers and collaborators.
The initiative and its partners – the North East Business Innovation Centre, Codeworks, Sunderland City Council and the University of Sunderland – also offer world-leading education and skills programmes, giving companies up-to-the minute knowledge of developments in the software sector and creating an unmatched pool of local software talent, as well as cutting edge facilities and business premises at the Evolve Centre, St Peter’s Gate, the Sunderland University Software Hatchery and the new Jupiter Centre at the North East Business Innovation Centre.
An Intelligence Service also offers a rapid research facility helping businesses understand their sector, customers and competitors in more detail.
One local company to have already benefited from the support on offer from Software City is The Test Factory, who build bespoke online assessment tools which provide organisations with the data they need to make intelligent business decisions.
The Rainton Bridge-based company’s world-leading service has seen them secure contracts with global blue-chip clients like the NHS, HSBC, the BBC and Vodafone – and even Microsoft, assisting IT Professionals with the deployment of Windows 7 globally – but managing director Kevin Beales still thinks that companies like his can benefit from expert business support on offer from initiatives like Sunderland Software City.
“To be honest, we set up in Sunderland because of Sunderland Software City. It was something we wanted to be part of and something we’ve really benefited from,” he said.
“They’ve not only given us their expertise but also the introductions to the right people, sources of funding and networks which has helped us become the company we are today.”
Bernie Callaghan, chief executive officer of Sunderland Software City said: “The North East is home to a huge and growing range of world-leading software companies, but every company from the newest to the most established can take advantage of the connections, advice and resources offered by local support organisations to push their business forward.
“We offer a huge range of services for businesses, ranging from help finding funding to office space to opening up new markets overseas, and whatever support a software company needs to reach their full potential we can provide it.”