Posted on October 11, 2017 by staff

Metro mayors’ tech credentials: Ben Houchen


Digital and creative is one of seven priority sectors for Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen, whose constituency includes a world-leading graphene plant and a leading university in animation and gaming.

The sector employs 6,800 people, a number expected to grow by 3,000 by 2026, in areas such as media and games development, mobile app and web development and IT support for advanced manufacturing.

Houchen has hailed the sector as ‘critical’ to boosting competitiveness and diversification, improving economic resilience and providing the range of jobs needed to ensure that growth is widespread and inclusive.

Large employers in the area include business services company Capita, Lygo International, which makes video gaming accessories, and Applied Graphene Services, an innovator in the manufacture and application of graphene.

Teesside University is one of the leading universities in animation and computer gaming and hosts the annual international Animex conference, a festival of animation and computer games.

The university and Digital City also provide mentoring and support entrepreneurs to accelerate the start-up rate of new companies.

Ninety-three per cent of all digital and creative companies in the area are microbusinesses, with an average of seven employees.

Houchen believes digital technologies can help overcome the Tees Valley’s geographical location, allowing local companies to compete successfully in national markets.

Key areas for research include animation, computer gaming, stimulation and visualisation, as well as the use of technology in advanced manufacturing and healthcare.

We have also highlighted  the digital plans of Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham, as well as Cambridgeshire and Peterborough mayor James Palmer and Sadiq Khan’s plans to make London a world-leading tech centre.

West Midlands mayor Andy Street has also set out his stall on digital technology, along with Liverpool’s Steve Rotheram and West of England’s Tim Bowles.

Area: Tees Valley (figures for Middlesbrough)

Tech jobs: 6,920

Digital GVA: £211m

Turnover growth: 14pc

Salary: £34,956

Employers: Visualsoft, Evaluagent

Famous for: DigitalCity, born from Teeside University, which has supported the digital tech and creative industries for 13 years. The gaming sector is thriving.