The former Minister of State for Digital and Culture, Ed Vaizey, has helped launch a North East project that will see universities, individuals and organisations come together to explore how the creative, digital and IT (CDIT) sector in the region can develop and play a leading role in the North East economy.
The Creative Fuse North East project will see the University of Sunderland, Newcastle University, Northumbria University, Teesside University and Durham University work with all 12 of the local authorities in the region as well as businesses, artists, cultural organisations and partners to research how the CDIT sector can ensure it has the right skills for a sustainable future.
It is hoped Creative Fuse North East will unlock the potential of the region’s creative, digital and IT sectors, drive innovation and help grow the North East economy.
Ed Vaizey MP, who is chairman of the advisory board for the project, said: “The North East is well known for having a lot of very successful technology and digital companies and clearly the UK as a whole is very successful in digital and technology, so anything we can do to help boost the success of companies based here in the North East has to be good news!
“It’s crucial really for the future because every business in the North East is going to have a digital aspect to it so the more we build digital clusters that can then leak into the wider economy the better.”
The project will run for 30 months, with the first phase beginning between now and January 2017. The creative, digital and commercial landscape of the North East will be mapped in terms of the mix of skills, knowledge and support available.
The data from this will inform a a series of specialist Innovation Pilots scheduled to be delivered 2017-18.
The project will be led by Newcastle University and will draw on expertise from a range of creative, cultural and business staff from across the five institutions.
Professor Eric Cross, Dean of cultural affairs at Newcastle University, is the principal investigator for the project.
“The Universities working together is one of the few organisations that can actually give us regional coverage so by working together more effectively we can support businesses more effectively.
“But also by working in partnership with businesses in a more effective way, we can support that growth of the sector and also particularly to try and keep graduates in the region because one of the challenges we’ve got in the region is graduate retention,” he said.
Graham Thompson, pro-vice chancellor at the University of Sunderland added: “It’s fantastic for Sunderland to be involved in this project because it involves all five universities.
“And I think what Sunderland is going to bring is some of its experience through not only culture and creative industries but things like Software City, the Cultural Spring and the expertise that the university has across the whole range of digital and creative subjects.
“We are absolutely delighted to be at the heart of this project.”
The project is funded jointly by the universities and the Arts and Humanities Research Council.
A survey has been set up for businesses and self-employed individuals in the creative, digital and IT sector to look at the sector’s landscape in the region.
It can be accessed here.