Up to 500 new jobs could be created if politicians agree to invest £10m in the North of Tyne’s digital economy.

North of Tyne cabinet member for business competitiveness Cllr Nick Forbes, who is Leader of Newcastle City Council.

North of Tyne cabinet member for business competitiveness Cllr Nick Forbes, who is Leader of Newcastle City Council.

The cash boost represents 17% of the budget over the next three years – the North of Tyne Combined Authority’s biggest spending commitment since it was set up in November 2018.

If approved, it would be spent between 2020-23 on:

• Investing in small and medium sized businesses

• Training hundreds of people in digital skills alongside the private sector

• Growing the digital sector with new business start-ups and business acceleration programmes

The blueprint will be considered by Cabinet on January 28 and comes just days after the BBC Director General praised Newcastle as a city “looking for fresh ideas, collaboration and innovation,” and announced a new tech centre to create the next generation of software engineers, product developers and data scientists.

Research published earlier this month revealed Newcastle is the top UK city when it comes to making use of technology assets to win business, improve systems and attract the best talent.

More than half of all digital jobs in the North East are in the North of Tyne area. The Combined Authority hopes to maintain the rapid progress with this latest investment.

Cabinet member for business competitiveness, Cllr Nick Forbes, welcomed the proposal.

Cllr Forbes, who is also leader of Newcastle City Council, said: “This is great news. We can’t be an analogue region in a digital world if we are to compete successfully at home and abroad.

“Big data, cloud computing and 5G give us new opportunities to create jobs and grow our economy, that’s why we are looking to make this major investment now.

“Our devolution negotiations with Government were all about people. This investment underlines that by showing confidence in our communities, businesses, and their ideas we which can use to create the jobs of the future right here in our region.”

Newcastle Helix

Newcastle Helix

It’s estimated the £10m funding will attract a further £25m of private sector investment.

£1.5m of the £10m will be targeted at small and medium-sized businesses to help them adopt digital systems and work practices.

North of Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll

North of Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll

North of Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll said: “We want to have decent jobs in the North of Tyne area so that people don’t have to move down to Leeds or London.

“Devolution works. We can do a better job through the North of Tyne than through Westminster.”

The Combined Authority’s Digital Growth and Innovation Programme will be used to nurture a range of expertise in gaming, age-related technology, finance tech (fin-tech) immersive technologies and software, big data and robotics.

It compliments significant investment in local full-fibre network which connects people and businesses to local, national and international markets, also in broadband infrastructure with North Sea cabling to improve international communications.

The programme has been developed in partnership with businesses and stakeholders, with the Combined Authority planning an event to discuss ideas, priorities and next steps.

Both Newcastle and Northumbria universities play a significant regional role in the digital economy by providing graduates and post-graduates with advanced digital skills.