Teesside has become something of a boom town for innovation, led by Teesside University's Institute of Digital Innovation
When The Economist decided to check the economic temperature of North East England, it sent its reporter to Middlesbrough to see whether a ?town and gown? partnership with regional development agency One North- East was really helping to increase the pool of graduate talent in an area hard-hit by previous recessions.
Sir George Cox in Teesside University?s Phoenix Building
And it was pretty impressed by Teesside University?s new £12m Institute of Digital Innovation (IDI), a major player in the region?s DigitalCity initiative. It was even more enthusiastic after meeting some graduate entrepreneurs. The resulting article ? ?Regeneration by university ? send in the gowns? ? spoke glowingly of the Middlesbrough partnership?s approach to supporting fledgling digital businesses in generous ?incubation? facilities on campus.
One of the companies interviewed, Halch, reported employing six full-time staff and as many freelancers, and was working on a game for the Nintendo Wii console. Only two years ago, its co-founder Marc Williamson was yet to graduate from his Teesside computing course. And the small but growing cluster of digital media companies is staying put in the area: The Economist recorded that ?of the 47 sustainable firms that have emerged since 2003, only two have left the region.?
Soon DigitalCity will have more to shout about, thanks to further investment by One NorthEast and Middlesbrough Council in Boho, a spanking new creative industries quarter in the town.
Former chairman of the UK Design Council Sir George Cox was certainly impressed by Teesside University?s new digital centre, describing it as ?an uplifting experience? ? and a welcome break from the credit crunch ? when he officially opened the Phoenix Building, home to the IDI.
Sir George predicted that regions such as North East England would flourish if they learn again how to innovate and said: ?The role of universities is to ensure that we don?t turn out engineers who can?t communicate or scientists who don?t understand design. We need to bring different skills together, and that?s what I find so exciting about the fabulous examples here.?
Alongside its digital entrepreneurs, the IDI houses a group of digital research and development centres, including the Intelligent Virtual Environments Group led by Professor Marc Cavazza, which had more than half of its work rated in the top two bands of the recent UK Research Assessment Exercise (RAE).
IDI Director Dr Jim TerKeurst says: ?I?m really excited about what we?re doing. DigitalCity fellows are working alongside postgraduate students, world-class research centres and innovative digital businesses. Bringing all of these together has created a fantastic environment for stimulating digital innovation.?
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Added the 30 August 2009 in category Innovation UK Vol5-1