Professional service providers have a great opportunity to capitalise on the innovation and digitisation that is growing in Newcastle upon Tyne and the surrounding region.
The area is creating a hotbed of new investment, new talent, and new opportunities, to grow the bottom line and also client acquisition through technological innovation.
In recent years, Newcastle upon Tyne has emerged as a hub for financial technology, green technology and cybersecurity. This in turn has increased the recruitment drive for technology experts. Currently, on the NRG website, 47% of the vacant roles are in the Tech and Digital sector.
The growth of these technology sectors has been largely down to outside investment from global companies who recognise the financial potential and untapped talent pool that the city can offer.
The influx of tech businesses in the city includes Siemens, Version 1, Arctic Wolf and most recently American tech consultancy firm Credera.
Newcastle upon Tyne has become an attractive location for tech companies to invest in. Fuelling this investment are two world-class universities that provide talent, research and a development pipeline. Significant investment in the city from Invest Newcastle, which helps promote the city and region as an exciting inward investment proposition, secured a record number of investments in 2020 and 2021. While the city is also home to the National Innovation Centre for Data.
According to Tech Nation, North East technology firms boast a turnover in excess of £2bn and they employ over 30,000 people in more than 3,500 businesses. Newcastle itself benefits from having the highest proportion of STEM and computing students in the country.
Sam Cassidy, Senior Inward Investment Manager, Invest Newcastle, said: “Based on the high volume of enquiries we are seeing from companies across the globe, it is clear that Newcastle has become an extremely attractive place for technology businesses to invest in.
"The influx in investment is helping to attract and retain talent in the region, and this will enhance career pathways for local residents at all levels. We have a very bright future ahead of us.”
In early 2019, the Newcastle Helix was opened to focus on data science, urban science and life sciences. The 24-acre innovation district provides first-class research and education facilities. This highlights the city's commitment to investing in talent within the region.
According to the March 2022 UK Tech Talent Tracker from Accenture, the pool of technology talent in northern cities had grown on average by 15% in the previous year, with Newcastle seeing a 40% jump in artificial intelligence professionals. The figures compare to an average 9% growth rate in southern cities in the same period.
Not only does Newcastle upon Tyne have a wealth of talent already within the city, but more people are also choosing the North East as the place to work as the cost of living is significantly lower than in southern parts of the UK.
Invest Newcastle invested £92m into Newcastle and Gateshead’s 80 hectares Accelerated Development Zone which has stimulated growth and attracted worldwide attention.
ABC Finance reported the true cost of living for UK cities. London sat at the top on 89.55 whilst Newcastle upon Tyne was 26 on 69.68. The figures are based on a variety of cost-of-living criteria which create a data point ranging from 0-100. This is a catalyst for inward investment into the business in the North East and also for people moving here to work in the sector.
It is clear within NRG that the largest business sector to recruit in is Technology and Digital. The roles range from graduate positions to senior engineers. The ultimate challenge is to find technology experts that either live in the North East or would be willing to relocate.
There are a number of factors that discourage technology experts from working in the North East, this includes stronger financial incentives offered elsewhere in the country, more comprehensive educational pathways in the sector and less investment from the public and private sectors.
Although there are significantly lower overheads in the North East than in London, workers often choose what they perceive to be a better work-life balance in the capital than in other areas of the UK.
The key challenges for the North East to stay competitive in the global tech market are a lack of venture capital investment, a need for a unified tech ecosystem, and a skills shortage when it comes to tech talent.
In summary, the North East continues to thrive in the technology sector however to continue the forward momentum, opportunities need to be matched with the talent to ensure investment in technology is for the long term.
There is also a very good argument for further comprehensive regional campaigns to accentuate the real draw of living and working in North East England. It possesses attributes such as compact size, excellent transport infrastructure (including a metro system), coast, countryside and cafe culture that makes living and working in the region such an attractive proposition.