Jim Mawdsley.
Billy Wood

Digital Union defends region's tech scene in reaction to new ONS figures

The North East network of digital businesses, Digital Union, has defended the region’s booming tech scene despite recent ONS figures suggesting that the tech sector may be the smallest in the country.

According to the ONS, only 1.6% of working age adults in the region work in the tech sector which it claimed was the lowest level in England.

However, stalwarts the North East tech scene, including Digital Union’s Jim Mawdsley and Newcastle Startup Week and Plan Digital UK head honcho, Paul Lancaster, have raised a spirited defence of the region’s digital economy, pointing to the recent Tech Nation report as evidence of the sector’s strengths.

Mawdsley pointed to figures which show that there are currently 33,000 digital tech jobs in the North East, while the GVA combination of tech was pegged at £1.359bn from the region last year.

He also pointed to the region’s pedigree for high growth businesses as further evidence of the North East’s digital strengths.

“Newcastle Gateshead also had the 2nd highest number of high growth businesses in the UK,” he said.

“This can be backed up with Generator, who runs Digital Union. We recently took a snapshot of 18 agencies big and small who we have supported in the last 3 years and combined they had added 649 jobs to their ranks which equates to £32 Million every year at current GVA rates.”

Paul Lancaster also argued that the prospects for the digital sector in the North East have never been better with rising salaries and swelling digital turnover growth making it an ideal environment for digital businesses to get up and running.

Fuelled by big name employers such as Sage, the DWP and Accenture, along with upstarts such as Performance Horizon and ZeroLight, the North East boasts the fourth highest average tech salary in the UK, while both Sunderland and Newcastle have both been recognised for their concentration of high growth businesses.

Lancaster added: “These stats suggest there is something very good going on here in the North East in terms of connectivity, clustering and a tight-knit community of digital tech experts who are working together to grow the sector and local economy.

“The strong ‘community’ or ‘scene’ is something people have been saying for years but the stats now seem to back this up as having a positive impact.”

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