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A Message From Jim Mawdsley – Behind The Scenes at Digital Union

Our CEO, Jim Mawdsley, gives you an update on the latest projects and events we have been working on behind-the-scenes at Digital Union.


Much has been going on behind the scenes at Digital Union so I thought I should give you all an update.

As most of you will know by now the 13th of May sees the launch of the first North East Digital Festival which will provide an umbrella for 2 weeks of activity that will include Newcastle Start Up Week, Thinking Digital and Tech Talent. It is also a hugely significant day for us as we will be launching the One Region, One Sector, One Statement piece we pledged to pull together as part of last year’s manifesto.

This document has been in 10 months of production and not only does it display the richness and breadth of the North East Creative Digital and Tech sectors it has also been a truly collaborative experience that has brought together all of the sector support organisations of the region. The result is a document that anybody can use with pride to say, ‘this is what the North East sector looks like’. We’ll send be sending out a link and a pdf of the Statement on the day it is published.

Speaking of collaboration, we have also been pulling together some key points from the Open Space meeting held in February to inform a Digital Union Manifesto refresh. This year, as well as continuing to work on ongoing pledges from last year we will be focussing on some key areas that in our view will help the sector grow. In doing this we will be refining mechanisms of support to include more member participation and input. We are realising more and more that the members who are getting the most out of Digital Union are the ones who are the most involved, so we want to encourage everyone to be part of at least one group covering the key areas we will work on. We will be looking to launch a refreshed manifesto document in June and alongside this, we’ll be calling out for you all to get on board with our commitments.

In other areas, we continue to represent you all at various forums discussing the regional needs of the sector. As the North of Tyne Mayoral election is imminent, we have been invited to be part of a working group that will pull together ideas for what is needed in North of Tyne to push the sector forward. We certainly see the need for a solid hub that can create a true community at the centre of the region. This will provide a focus for the sector, a hub for start up activity, a place that the businesses and organisations can meet, network and ultimately collaborate more to ensure increased growth. It will provide a home for Newcastle’s Digital community and somewhere business can host and meet investors and wider policy makers from the region and beyond. Despite more investment in great projects and tech centres such as Middlesbrough’s Boho, Gateshead’s Baltic Quarter and of course the success of Sunderland Software Centre we still lack a facility in Newcastle that is purely business focussed and can provide a beacon for the whole region’s activity.



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