A WORKSHOP exploring how to accelerate the growth of the region’s tech sector was attended by key north east business leaders and national experts on digital economic policy.

The workshop analysed a report commissioned by regional tech network Dynamo and written by global management consultancy Oliver Wyman.

The report was written by Cate Kalson, who leads Oliver Wyman’s Data and Analytics Team, based in Newcastle.

“The aim of the brainstorm session was to look at what has underpinned success and growth of our digital ecosystem so far, and how we can accelerate growth going forward. Our report provided data and analysis to spark debate between our diverse groups in break-out sessions,” said Cate.

“There was a great deal of knowledge and experience at the workshop, and some helpful and encouraging themes emerged from the discussions,” she added.

Charlie Hoult, Dynamo Chair, said: “We used the Oliver Wyman report as the basis for a wide ranging discussion. We looked at the scale of the region’s tech economy as it is now and how the numbers of digital jobs – and the sector’s contribution to the regional GVA – have grown ahead of the overall UK growth rate.

“We also looked at Dynamo’s industry-aligned clusters and how they have the potential to impact a significant proportion of the regional economy, not just the digital sector. We looked at models across the globe where economic development programmes focused around clusters have successfully driven growth in regional economies.

“We used break-out sessions to explore what the north east is good at and what features of our ecosystem give us an advantage. We then analysed what we could do better and who would need to do what to grow the sector in line with existing strategies such as NELEP’s Digital for Growth strategy.

“One point of agreement was that there needed to be more granular analysis and sharing of data. For instance, there was reference to the latest NatWest PMI Business Activity Index which painted a rosier than expected picture of the regional economy – the best performing region in terms of business activity during September was the north east. Not enough people were aware of its contents.

“I think the session gave us confirmation that Dynamo’s cluster approach was the right way forward and gave us a better understanding of how to develop our clusters in support of regional economic plans – so important for the post-Covid rebound.

“We were fortunate to have a stellar cast of leaders and change makers who were fully involved in the process and I thank them for their time and contributions.”

Those who attended the workshop included: Mark Larsen, MD of Accenture’s Delivery Centre in Newcastle; Lord Jim O’Neill, former Chief Economist at Goldman Sachs and Vice Chair at the Northern Powerhouse Partnership; Rob Hamilton, Interim Head of Investment for the North of Tyne Combined Authority; Alan Welby, who heads NELEP’s Innovation Programme; Antony Walker, Deputy CEO of techUK; Jen Hartley, Director, Invest Newcastle; Mauricio Armellini, Bank of England Agent for the North East; MP Kevin Hollinrake; Lindsay Phillips, Sage’s Executive Vice President, Product Engineering; Jeff Youseff, Partner at Oliver Wyman; Dr Amy Stabler, from Newcastle University’s Business School, and Andrew Besford, a Non-Executive Director at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, and a director of Dynamo.

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.’ With more than 160 members, 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.

Dynamo is part funded by the ERDF as part of the Catalysing Innovation in North East Clusters project, delivered by the Innovation SuperNetwork.

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