Rachel Peacock, head of Digital Union, takes a look at how the digital and commercial creative network has progressed, and where it now focusses.
Since Generator took over Digital Union two years ago its mission has been to build, represent, and lead the North East digital cluster. It has certainly achieved this, steadily growing into the largest collective of creative and digital businesses in the region enabling collaboration, business support, mentoring, business development opportunities, marketing assistance, and a heck of a lot more.
We have a range of businesses, offering a mix of expertise and skills and together, we've created a community which can self-serve and collaborate. The collaboration aspect of the North East is unseen anywhere else in the UK and we believe this is what really sets us apart and has helped the digital ecosystem become the fastest growing scene outside of London.
It’s not just digital companies either, we also have the likes of Sunderland Software City, Invest North East England, Design Network North, Dynamo, and NECC as members and working with us on the bigger picture.
We have also forged relationships with local educational institutes such as the University of Sunderland and Newcastle College which helps us work on reducing the skills gap and enables additional and adequate office space for companies to grow.
Since being appointed there have been many highlights. A big turning point in my eyes was when we announced that we had doubled our membership late last year. Not wanting to blow my own trumpet, but it was an achievement to see our numbers double in the first four months of me joining.
That was a key moment for us and triggered the start of large-scale collaborative projects to ensure that the region’s creative digital and tech community continues to punch above its weight.
Amongst other things around that time, we had also been working hard in the background to create a new Creative Digital Designer Degree Apprenticeship, connecting with schools, colleges, and universities to promote careers in the region to the next generation, and facilitating a collaborative approach to working in the North East.
We've consistently been assisting with raising the sector’s profile by delivering an effective media strategy to highlight the region’s sector and individual successes, leading to increased media coverage, further business and the attraction and retention of talent.
We are heavily committed to representing the sector in various forums including; local and national Government and national bodies such as Innovate UK, Tech City, Tech North and Sector Skills Councils.
Looking ahead, we will continue to ensure that national and international business leaders are engaged with the North East sector and champion and facilitate a collaborative approach to working in the North East.
We will also to expand our reach on a global and will continue to raise the profile of our members and the sector as a whole by delivering effective regional and national media strategies to highlight successes, leading to increased media coverage, further business and the attraction and retention of talent.
A large project that has been ongoing for the past six-months has been working with our members to develop a manifesto which highlights the struggles companies are currently facing along with pledges with what we are going to do to help overcome these.
This has given businesses we represent a unified voice and champions their businesses with the bodies that shape the digital landscape both nationally and in the North East.
It's large-scale hard-hitting and influential events and initiatives like this that we want to build on to help us reach our goals. We want the North East to lead the way and be the number one voice for the UK's creative, digital and tech sectors. It's time to think big and be brave.
Together, we can do it!
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