…now is the time to exploit it!
It’s out… After a long wait and much anticipation ‘Growing the Digital Technology Sector’ produced by Auxin Associates for Newcastle and Gateshead Councils had its first official airing at the Toffee Factory first thing this morning (Tuesday 11th October).
For us at Digital Union / Generator the report is not ground breaking. It calls for all the things that we have learned are important for the sector we work with, both as it exists now and for the one that will have grown rapidly in the future. However, it does capture the excitement and the vibrancy we are currently enjoying from businesses at all levels and delivers a call to arms for all parties to pull together to give us a real chance for the North East to realise the potential to become a leading region in Digital.
But this will only happen if we work together and time and time again the report makes this point. We must be bold, brash even, and seize this as another opportunity to build on what we have with the Councils supporting, not leading. And what can they really do? Yes we need new and refurbished buildings that are designed and equipped specifically to encourage the interaction of businesses, yes we all know that we have a skills shortage, lack of investment and (until the recent launch of #ThisIsMINE) a brand we can all get behind, but we won’t all achieve what we are more than capable of unless we truly collaborate.
Those out there who are fully engaged with Digital Union or have been observing our progress from the side lines will know that we are beginning to have meaningful dialogue with a number of educational establishments and this is progressing simply as we are developing relationships based on a ‘two-way street’ approach. We know that both HE and FE could be more effective at producing industry-ready graduates but rather than moan about it we are asking what we can do to inform their course content.
This is just one example of collaboration that is already showing potential and the councils can play a strong role in getting the universities on board to help provide the workforce the sector desperately needs to ensure it goes from strength to strength.
The report makes a number of recommendations that I’m sure the Councils will take very seriously and they do know that there is real opportunity for economic growth here despite the ‘B’ word, but the one thing they should take from this is to draw on all their partners and the business community to enable the growth with the right encouragement.
If we are to address the problems and turn them all into opportunities the Council can play a key role in bringing all the parties together in the manner the report calls for. It may not be too difficult to do. We already have productive dialogue with Campus North, Ignite, Dynamo, Sunderland Software City and the North East LEP as well as education and media partners.
The Councils’ and LEP’s job here is to enable and support and it should be left to the businesses through their networks and organisations to shape the landscape. If we need one place, one group, a truly collaborative offer which is arrived at following mature decision making and alignment of service we need everyone to play a part, be productive, find solutions and offer something up in true partnership.
The Councils now need to set the priorities to help achieve all the recommendations the report makes, but as investors, facilitators and supporters. To drive the sector’s significant growth there is a need for people to get over themselves and get involved for the greater good.
Jim Mawdsley, CEO, Generator
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