DYNAMO: OUR TECH SECTOR IS BUZZING

THE region’s booming tech sector is well set for a year of further expansion and success, according to several of its main players.

At a recent board meeting of the advisory board of Dynamo, the region’s tech network, companies were reporting buoyant order books and the promise of plenty of work in the pipeline for 2022.

“Many people around the board table were reporting new work, new people and new offices,” said Dynamo Chair Charlie Hoult.

“It’s so encouraging to see global players such as Version 1, Arctic Wolf, Monstarlabs and Thoughtworks arriving in town, and it’s not just by chance. The inward investment teams at organisations such as Invest Newcastle are working 24/7 to bring in national and international companies. They’re being attracted by an ever-deepening pool of talent supported by our universities and colleges; brilliant connectivity and a joined-up approach by networks like Dynamo who promote and shout ever louder on behalf of the burgeoning sector,” he added.

Speaking after the Dynamo board, several members talked about growth in their own respective organisations.

Thoughtworks, a leading global tech consultancy, opened a Newcastle office in December last year with a team of five, which has already increased to ten.

“We’re ramping up quickly – we hope to have a further significant increase in people in our Newcastle office by the end of this year,” said Matt Simons, Thoughtworks’ Newcastle Market Director.

He added: “Our recruitment will be particularly strong in areas such as data and AI.

“Our Newcastle operation is focused on serving the UK public sector, partnering across policy, operations and technology to put people at the heart of modern digital public services and delivering some of the most critical work in the sphere of technology as it relates to the national agenda.”

Meanwhile, James Hall, Executive Director of Monstarlabs UK, who also opened a Newcastle office late last year, said: “Our ambition is to recruit up to 100 new people in Newcastle over the next three years. In 2022, we will use Newcastle as a base for new business in the region and beyond as well as supporting our other European offices for bid and delivery work.”

Monstarlabs is a global digital consultancy and James heads up the Newcastle office and the Growth team in the UK.

Dawn Dunn, Senior Investment Manager at NGI, added: “The region can celebrate not only the arrival of these fabulous digital and technology companies, but also some spectacular growth of those already based here – whether they be overseas or home-grown businesses.”

Two of those home-grown tech success stories are both going through massive expansion.

Hoults Yard based Opencast is currently preparing new offices for an influx of new staff.

The independent tech consultancy recently announced a key partnership with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to accelerate its digital transformation over the next two years.

The huge contract is in addition to other Government contract wins for work on Covid and Brexit, as well as ongoing work with other Government departments, the NHS and global financial institutions.

Opencast co-founder Mike O’Brien said: “While landing these new and transformational contracts we’ve also been strengthening our leadership team so we’re prepared for further growth.

“Our organic growth has been good over the last few years but there has been a real acceleration over the past year and we’re confident the momentum will continue through 2022. We’ve started work on new offices on Hoults Yard that will give us space to grow as well as providing a brilliant working environment for our growing team.

“We’re be recruiting a further 200 people this year to take our headcount to 400. This is going to be an exciting year ahead for us – and for the regional tech sector, it’s really buzzing at the moment.”

While Opencast is preparing for a new move, managed service and internet service provider Aspire moved into its new landmark HQ on Gateshead Quays late last year.

The company has announced plans for 2022 which include creating more than 150 new jobs.

Managing Director Chris Fraser said: “Aspire has gone from strength to strength. In addition to investment in headcount, we’ve also invested heavily in products and infrastructure. We continue to grow our Ultrafast Dedicated Connectivity (UDC) full fibre network and we’re also set to launch our exciting new private cloud solution.

“I’m really excited about the next 12 months as we continue to deliver our ambitions plans”.

The company supported a wide range of businesses with the switch to home working in 2020. Published accounts for their financial year ended 2021 showed a rise in turnover to £24.7m.

Paul Swaddle, Head of Technical Solutions at NBS, said: “The recent acquisition of NBS by Sweden-based Byggfakta Group demonstrates a growing international awareness that North-East England is a hub for innovative companies worthy of significant investment.

“It’s a beautiful place to live and work. The North-East is packed with dynamic creativity and idea generation, but also a foundation of enthusiastic, friendly people and fun, social communities, with the work ethics and practical delivery skills to produce exceptional outcomes time and time again.”

Dynamo North East is a business-led organisation with the core mission of ‘Growing the North East tech economy through collaboration, innovation, skills and noise.’  It is made up of IT organisations, large corporate employers in the region, consultants, technology hubs, education providers, local government and suppliers to the industry.

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