Middlesbrough mayor Andy Preston announced plans to make Middlesbrough the digital city, starting with a £45m digital development featuring a skyscraper and 700-seat amphitheatre. Do you think this is a good investment or a waste of money? Exciting and ambitious or pie in the sky? We asked Tees business leaders for their thoughts…
Lynsey Robinson, DigitalCity, Teesside University
“It’s great to see the hard work that Teesside University and Middlesbrough Council have put into DigitalCity over the last 15 years is continuing with such an ambitious infrastructure project.
“The work we do with digital businesses and entrepreneurs demonstrates that they are crying out for more fantastic facilities that really help to shout about the excellent businesses and talent we have here. I believe the ambition shown in this project is really important for our future economic growth.”
James Lees, Mabo Media
“I do think the plans are very ambitious – but also hugely exciting. I, for one, really hope they come off. Middlesbrough is one of the fastest-growing digital and tech clusters in the UK and these companies need as much support to help facilitate growth to help make Middlesbrough the UK’s digital city.
“All too often we see our digital talent leave the area to the likes of London and Manchester. Our Middlesbrough-based businesses need this talent to remain local – and creating a huge central base for this will go a long way to helping achieve that.”
Tony Wentworth, Jacksons Law Firm
“It is really exciting to see the plans for a digital city in Middlesbrough. This region has some amazing tech businesses and a university with an international reputation in the digital sector. Our existing and future digital entrepreneurs need somewhere to grow and flourish.
“If we want to be a centre of excellence, to retain our tech specialists and to draw others to our region from all over the world, then we need provide them with the first class facilities they need to achieve their own aspirations. Ambition is good – so let’s embrace these plans positively.”
Mark Easby, Better
“The plans to make Middlesbrough the digital city are exactly what we need to continue building momentum around the digital and creative cluster in the region.
“The growing community – which includes companies ranging from leading global businesses through to the most exciting start-ups – is building a national profile, so we must continue to be brave and ambitious by building a fit-for-purpose environment to promote business growth, attract investment, develop skilled people and retain talent.”
Dean Benson, Visualsoft
“A project of this size and scale is something I have personally been wanting for a long time. Our region is perfectly placed to truly become a digital leader and it is fantastic to hear that this ambition is echoed by Andy Preston and Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen. There is no reason why Middlesbrough and the wider Tees Valley shouldn’t strive to be the home for future tech unicorns.”
Dominic Lusardi, Animmersion
“Having been part of the digital cluster since its inception, I’ve seen it grow from nothing to occupying most of the Boho Zone. We need to keep the ambition going and set a new bar to aspire to and the next Boho does exactly this.
“If the area wants to be known for its digital industry, it needs the space to grow and this development does exactly that – and sets a level of ambition and optimism we need. If we want to attract and retain the talent, let’s make it believable.”
Chloe Clover, Wander Films
“This is a super exciting opportunity for the Tees Valley. Digital is the future – and this investment is a huge stepping stone to securing Middlesbrough’s place on that digital map.
“There’s a huge movement in Middlesbrough right now – a lot of young businesses are started within the digital industry, so we’re totally behind having somewhere like this to help young businesses get a leg-up and enticing bigger players to move here. Plus who doesn’t want a helipad on their office roof?!”
Jess Tucker, Social Allies
“This project will be truly transformational not only for Middlesbrough but for the wider region. Middlesbrough’s digital sector is an exciting one which is growing rapidly.
“I believe that a project of this size will not only help to further accelerate this growth but can cement Middlesbrough as a sector leader. I personally cannot wait to start using the first class facilities this project will undoubtedly deliver.”