|A NEW BBC executive has reiterated the importance of the north east to the organisation following the announcement of £25m of investment in the region.
Storm Fagan, who joined the BBC last September as Chief Product Officer, was addressing the annual Dynamo dinner and talked about the BBC’s centenary and the huge investment in the area that will include the creation of a new tech hub based in Newcastle.
Organised by the region’s tech network, the annual Dynamo Dinner has become an important date in the sector calendar and was hosted at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art last Thursday (March 17), when 120 guests attended.
Storm talked about the long history the BBC has in the region: “Nine days after the BBC was created in December 1922 we opened a north east office and since then we have continued to invest in local content and the local economy – as well as delivering on our core mission of educating, informing and entertaining,” she said.
“There’s never been a more exciting time to be at the BBC – and although we’re celebrating our centenary this year, we’re looking forward, not back and the recent announcement about our £25m investment in the area is part of that future,” she added.
Storm talked about locally produced BBC shows launching high-profile careers, and said the importance of the BBC news operation was being made clear during the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“Our news platforms are being used hundreds of millions times a day by people around the world looking for trustworthy and reliable news – and our important output isn’t just aimed at adults, we’re also producing versions of the news from Ukraine for children through carefully written Newsround bulletins.”
She praised the region’s tech sector and stressed how important technology would be for the BBC’s future.
“I’ve been struck how passionate you all are about the region, and the pipeline of tech talent you’re developing here. I look forward to collaborating and partnering with you. The north east is in the DNA of the BBC – has been for 100 years and will be so for the next 100 years.”
The BBC’s £25m investment over the next five years will fund network TV production, talent development and support for the creative sector. It’s part of a deal with local authorities in the North East, who will work with the BBC, and with independent producers, to invest in talent, skills, and infrastructure to support the production industry in the region.
Dynamo director Cate Kalson had earlier welcomed guests to the dinner and thanked sponsors Mincoffs Solicitors, Invest Newcastle and North of Tyne Combined Authority (NTCA).
In return Councillor Richard Wearmouth, Deputy Leader of Northumberland County Council and Cabinet member at NTCA, said the region – and its tech sector – was buzzing.
“We are attracting major investment across all sectors and the digital sector is no exception. We’re on a roll, not only have we seen local companies growing, but a host of new inward investments including the BBC, Monstarlabs, Thoughtworks, Version1 and Arctic Wolf.
“Digital is going to be key, it has a huge part to play in levelling up the north east.
“The North of Tyne has an extensive approach to the digital space including our recently launched Digital Growth and Innovation programme – a £29m package. Our programmes intend to give you all a boost because you are critical to our success and we want to reinforce collaboration across the tech community.
“We are here to work with you, to break down barriers to new start-ups, raise digital aspirations, put a rocket under digital innovation, grow the talent pool and attract yet more investment.”
Companies and organisations represented at the dinner included Nebula Labs, Mediaworks, Newcastle College, Gateshead College, Opencast, Ubisoft, Sage, Teesside University, iamproperty and Thoughtworks.
* For more information on Dynamo, or on its forthcoming Dynamo 22 conference, which will be online and at Northumbria University on June 21 and 22, log on to www.dynamonortheast.co.uk
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