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Sunderland and Bradford named as Digital Catapult Centres

Ed Vaizey Ed Vaizey

Sunderland and Bradford are two of the three UK centres chosen to be Digital Catapult Centres named by Minister for the Digital Economy, Ed Vaizey today.

Together with one in Brighton, the centres will ‘rapidly advance the UK’s best digital ideas’ and aim to generate thousands of new jobs, driving innovation at a local level and creating millions in linked investment and future funding by 2025.  All 3 centres are due to open in March 2015.

They will support the London King’s Cross Digital Catapult Centre which will be opened today by Vaizey. They will help accelerate the UK’s digital economy by providing entrepreneurs, SMEs, researchers and corporate organisations with a physical space to meet and collaborate on development projects.

He said: “It is an exciting time to be a tech business in the UK. Our digital economy is already one of the strongest markets in the world, valued at more than £100 billion. Growth areas including the Internet of Things and digital creative industries are opening up a range of new opportunities for companies in the sector.

“The new Digital Catapult Centre will provide a thriving, state-of-the-art hub for some of the country’s most innovative digital companies and entrepreneurs.”

In the north, the proposed consortia and their focus areas are:

  • the Digital Catapult Centre North East and Tees Valley (led by the North East LEP and Tees Valley LEP): The controlled delivery and security of data so as to increase information sharing amongst businesses and organisations and open up new business models and revenue streams
  • the Digital Catapult Centre Yorkshire (led by Leeds City Region LEP and York, North Yorkshire and East Riding LEP): Supporting digital health innovation and developing new healthcare products and services.

The Digital Catapult will initially support them with resources and collaborative support of up to £500,000. This includes the cost of setting up each local centre, costs for developing and delivering projects agreed and aligned with the Catapult’s focus areas and for use of Catapult resources to support engagement and initiatives.

In Sunderland, leader of the city council Paul Watson, reacted with delight at the news saying:

“Sunderland is a city that has – for some time – been growing its reputation for innovation and technology. And the success we have seen in this field is something that has been fully supported by the city council, through our on-going investment in Sunderland Software City as well as hard and soft infrastructure to create the right conditions for the businesses in the field to flourish.”

“To become a key focal point of an initiative that will not only support start ups and SMEs, but that will be a place in which software businesses can collaborate and share ideas, is exactly what the Sunderland Software Centre was built to achieve. It’s fantastic news for the city and wider North East region.”

Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bradford, Professor Brian Cantor was equally enthusiastic: “The centre will build on our recently launched Digital Health Enterprise Zone, enabling companies developing new healthcare products and services to connect with Bradford’s outstanding capabilities in healthcare systems research, practice-based medicine and information and communications technology and with other centres nationally, driving the UK digital economy.”

There’s more information on the catapult at the website here.

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