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Centre seals new deal

Sunderland's cutting edge new software hub has signed a new contract that will see it supported by leading business and technology services company IBM.

The multi-million pound Sunderland Software Centre, located in the city centre, has signed a new contract with IBM that will see it act as the building's managed service provider (MSP), delivering support to its tenants and providing equipment to the flagship site.

As well as equipping the building with the latest IT and AV equipment, the contract also includes an events programme delivered to tenants by IBM. Businesses based in the centre will be able to attend events designed to accelerate their growth and help them to make links with organisations that may be able to help them to access funding and overseas markets. The events will be themed around technology for healthcare, automotive and offshore industries, in line with sectors that Sunderland City Council is supporting as part of its economic growth strategy.

Councillor Paul Watson, leader of Sunderland City Council, said that the contract further strengthens a partnership that has already seen Sunderland become the first place in Europe to commit to delivering a city-wide Cloud computing environment.

He said: "We're delighted to have IBM on board as our MSP at the Sunderland Software Centre. The expertise and equity that comes with having a provider of their stature on board is fantastic, and we believe it makes the centre an even more attractive proposition for software and technology businesses looking for a place to do business.

"We recognised some time ago that the software sector was one that we could grow in Sunderland, and the work we have done as a council since has been specifically about creating the right environment for software and technology businesses to thrive."

"The new software centre is a great addition to the commercial property landscape in the city, but with the added expertise that IBM brings to the table will do a lot to ensure that people in this sector see that Sunderland is serious about software."

The Sunderland Software Centre is now in its final stage of fit-out, and as well as having tenants already on board, the council is in discussions with a number of software and technology businesses keen to make it their permanent business base.

Coun Watson added:

"We are already seeing a great deal of interest in what we have to offer and the deal we have struck with IBM, and the support they will deliver as part of this arrangement will enable Sunderland to showcase its capability on a national and international stage."

Nigel Milton, IBM UK executive for Smarter Cities, said: "IBM believes that new relationships between cities, universities, business incubators and the private sector are crucial to the ability of cities and communities to flourish economically and socially.

"To this end, the Sunderland Software Centre will not only offer a high performing and flexible technological infrastructure but more importantly, a menu of business support functions designed specifically to attract and retain software companies. A special combination of IBM's Global Entrepreneur programme and access to IBM's Academy of Technology will provide the centre's tenants with insight into the major trends and opportunities in technology and related industries; help them with their business development and marketing; and connect them to IBM's network of partners, customers and in-fluencers.

"The centre marks another milestone in Sunderland City Council's journey towards becoming a Smarter City and in its relationship with IBM."

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Ralph Saelzer

Managing Director of Liebherr, Sunderland

German-born Ralph Saelzer joined Liebherr in 2002 and shares overall responsibility for the Sunderland plant with the company's Finance Director, managing production; HR; health and safety; quality; Maintenance and design support.

The company manufactures maritime cranes and cargo handling equipment including ship and port cranes, offshore cranes and mobile harbour cranes.

Liebherr opened in Sunderland in 1989 in the Deptford area of Sunderland, on the banks of the River Wear and employs more than 180 people, many of whom are longstanding employees.

As well as Ralph's day job, he also holds several voluntary posts including member of the Economic Leadership Board Sunderland, Governor of Sunderland College, Regional Councillor of the EEF and within the Church of England.
In recognition of his contribution to the skills agenda in Sunderland, he has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Sunderland.

Ralph is married with three adult children and in his spare time enjoys reading, outdoor activities like cycling and fell walking and is a supporter of Sunderland Association Football Club.

Read more about Ralph Saelzer and Liebherr


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