For a long time, Newcastle has been known as a centre for innovation and technological advancement, but the city is now leading a new industrial revolution in digital.
Newcastle-upon-Tyne has a growing reputation as a digital hub, boasting the highest growth rate of digital start-ups, as well as ranking in the top three UK cities for digital salaries outside of London.
But what does this actually mean for the people and businesses in the toon? Well, NE1 Ltd, the business improvement district company for Newcastle City Centre, has made Digital and Smart Cities a cornerstone of its business plan for BID renewal this autumn.
In a report from the Chronicle, chief executive Adrian Waddell said, “It is vitally important for the city’s future, its economic development and success that Newcastle’s digital infrastructure is efficient, effective and capable of being scaled up to meet future demand.
“For businesses to remain in the city, and for new ones to invest here, they all need to be able to do business without digital impediment – this is true for all businesses, not just those in the digital sector. All companies need the internet to be fast, efficient, cost effective and resilient and for this digital connectivity to extend beyond the office walls.”
He continued, “If Newcastle is to compete with other cities across the UK and the world, we need to up our digital connectivity game – providing superfast and reliable broadband. Speed matters and we need to get faster.
These sentiments have been echoed by Raman Sehgal, founder of international pharmaceutical marketing agency, ramarketing.
He said, “Whilst we are based in Newcastle, our clients are located all over the world. Having a reliable and high quality digital connection is essential for the smooth running of our business.
“With an office now in the centre of Manchester, I have a clear point of comparison. Newcastle needs to up its game in terms of digital infrastructure or it will be left behind by more progressive cities. Great job by NE1 taking the lead on this as the lasting impact will be more investment by companies in the city centre, more jobs and a better experience for both business and consumers.”
The region is already pitting itself against the competition, following the creation of the Stellium data centre and the recently completed Metropolitan Area Network. This development has seen nearly 30km of new, advanced fibre infrastructure installed; connecting the UK fibre backbone in the centre of Newcastle to Cobalt Park in North Tyneside.
The new, advanced fibre optic cable that Stellium provides offers the opportunity for high speed movement of large volumes of data across wide areas nationally and internationally; a key strength for competing in the digital economy.
Businesses in the North East can now benefit from a genuinely world-class connection and can now be super connected internationally. It is predicted that this will attract interest and new inward investment from world leading organisations who rely on these data networking capabilities and ultimately encourage them to consider relocating to the North East.