Sunderland Software City: Growing the North East's digital sector

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Sunderland Software City (SSC) supports the growth of the Software Industry in the North East and works to make the region the place to do business for the international software market. We sat down to talk to Amy Watson, Communications Manager for Sunderland Software City, to learn about the growing digital sector in the North East and how SSC works with the University to provide computing students opportunities to enhance their employability.

Amy Watson Sunderland Software City


Why do you think Sunderland is such an attractive choice for software developers and business start-ups?

"Sunderland and the wider North East has a vibrant and thriving technology sector and an unrivalled start-up ecosystem supported by the public and private sector. The region boasts more computer science graduates than any other UK region outside of London and with over 25,000 people currently employed in the region in digital tech roles in over 2000 software companies, the North East is the perfect location to start and build successful careers in the tech industry."

"Sunderland is also home to some of the most innovative and exciting technology companies in the UK."
 

London used to be the go-to destination for graduates and businesses looking to grow in the digital sector, but what do you think Sunderland can offer compared to places like London to help businesses flourish?

"The recent Tech Nation Report 2016, found that Digital Tech salaries in the North East are increasing at double the national average rise and this combined with a comparably low cost of living and a great work-life balance makes the region an attractive choice for graduates, start-ups and established businesses working in the digital tech industry.

"Sunderland Software City has helped more than 300 people start new technology businesses since 2008, while infrastructure such as the £10million Sunderland Software Centre provides the perfect base for people wanting to start and grow a technology company to succeed.

"Sunderland is also home to some of the most innovative and exciting technology companies in the UK, from world-leading organisations such as Sale Cycle, based at Rainton Bridge Business Park, that have offices in eight locations around the world and work with brands such as Panasonic, Virgin Atlantic, DKNY and McAfee to game-changers such as Geek Talent who are revolutionising industries through new technologies and innovative products."


Software City supports a lot of companies, but how important a role do you think students and graduates from the University, in all disciplines of computing, play in helping companies move forward?

"Students and graduates are a valuable resource for companies wanting to implement new technologies in their business, whether they are a business developing software themselves, or a company that is underpinned by technology, such as the automotive industry. More and more graduates are entering SMEs and larger organisations and helping them to revolutionise systems and processes through the implementation of new technology that ultimately makes them more efficient and competitive.

"Entrepreneurial students and graduates are also playing an important role in the increased growth of the software sector in Sunderland and the North East by starting up new companies, creating jobs and contributing to the regional economy."


Does SSC have any systems in place to connect students to potential employers?

"Sunderland Software City has a comprehensive network of businesses of all sizes and a dedicated Skills Manager within the organisation to connect students with potential employers, work experience and placement opportunities. We regularly attend University placement and recruitment fairs representing the software and technology sector and raise awareness of the employment opportunities within the region through guest lectures, site visits and media activity. As a key partner of the Sunderland Software City project, we work alongside the University of Sunderland to ensure that students and academic staff are aware of the sector skills needs and work to ensure courses and curriculums meet the needs of industry and result in better graduate employability."

Do you think tech clusters across the North of England will become more common as our reliance on technology increases further? With more companies spreading themselves across England than ever before, do you think this will have a positive impact on the student jobs market?

"The North East already boasts one of the fastest growing tech clusters in the UK and is a key cluster in Tech City UK’s ‘Tech Nation’ initiative. The region is considered a UK area of excellence for sectors such as data analytics, gaming and enterprise software amongst others, with a consistent growth in the number of new businesses right across the region. As the number of new businesses continues to grow and as existing businesses continue to expand into new areas of operation and global markets, the number of opportunities for students to enter the technology sector in both technical and non-technical roles will continue to grow."