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Sunderland Software Centre

Sunderland named among the UK's top tech cities

SUNDERLAND is home to one of the fastest growing digital technology clusters in the UK, according to a new report by Tech Nation.

The annual Tech Nation Report captures the strength, depth and breadth of digital technology activity across the UK.

The report analyses the strength of the sector, taking into account the number of jobs created, total turnover and the number of businesses starting up.

Outside of London, the North East was one of the fastest-growing regions in this year’s report, with Middlesbrough, Newcastle and Sunderland all scoring highly.

Sunderland in particular was one of the top places for job creation, with the number of people working in the sector growing by 26% over the past four years.

The report also revealed that the city’s digital technology businesses turned over approximately £118m last year, averaging around £78,000 for every employee working in the industry.

Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “This is fantastic news for the city. We have worked extremely hard over recent years to establish ourselves as a city at the forefront of digital technology and we’re really starting to reap the benefits.

“The sector is now one of our fastest growing industries and is helping shape a new future for the city, making it a more competitive and prosperous place.

“The fact that we can compete with the likes of Manchester, Leeds and even London, is testament to the hard work put in by everyone involved in the sector over recent years.”

Start-ups involved in the survey were also asked why they chose to setup in their respective cities. The most popular responses for those based in Sunderland pointed to the helpful tech community, easy access to resources and the proximity of the University of Sunderland.

Tech Nation also singled out praise for the University of Sunderland, Sunderland Software City and online gaming giant tombola, for continuously investing in the city and helping drive the sector forward.

The praise for Sunderland Software City follows the announcement earlier this year that is was selected to roll out a Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) across the region – one of just three such testbeds in the country, designed to support the trial and adoption of mass Internet of Things (IoT) use cases.

Used in everything from remote healthcare and wellness monitoring, to improving efficiency in the manufacturing sector, these connected technologies will enable regions to better meet local business challenges and drive economic growth.

David Dunn, CEO of Sunderland Software City, explained: “LPWAN will allow us to develop and deliver new IoT-based initiatives across the region and improve existing ones.  We are already working with utilities companies, housing providers, and health care organisations to help them develop smart infrastructure and solutions to some of the challenges they face.

“However, this would never have been possible without our thriving digital technology sector. Sunderland has a close-knit tech community, where established businesses support new and developing ones. It is this peer-to-peer support through informal networks that makes Sunderland such a great place to run a tech business.”

tombola, the UK’s largest online bingo provider, is also continuing to invest in the city. The company is opening a new, £6 million Sunderland HQ this year and aims to use the building to attract top talent and double its tech team by 2020.

Founded in 2000, the company now operates the largest bingo site in the UK, with more players than any other company. The firm is also the leading online bingo operator in Spain and Italy with offices in Milan, Madrid and Gibraltar.

Founder and CEO of tombola, Phil Cronin, said: “Sunderland is my home, and tombola was born here, so it’s a place I am incredibly passionate about – but with good cause. 

“We are at the heart of a region that is riding the digital wave, with a tech sector that is the envy of many, and our central location within that region – with fantastic universities on our doorstep – means we are in the fantastic position of being able to attract the best people.”