A time for tech to shine

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The Tees region’s digital sector is still open for business – with collaboration and innovation at the fore more than ever.

That’s the message from sector leaders who are using these unprecedented times to shine a spotlight on new ways of doing business.

The impact of the coronavirus crisis on commerce has been huge and many firms are navigating their way through uncertain times.

The stay at home message meant a closure of workplaces in all but essential industries and it sent us all online to communicate via Zoom conferences and virtual hangouts.

It has been a challenge for tech industries too – but who better placed to lead the virtual way forward?

Speaking exclusively to Tees Business, three of the Tees Valley’s leading digital and creative agency leaders say dealing with the pandemic’s impact has been tough but it has also been an opportunity.

“The great thing about the digital sector it that it has been the least affected by having to work from home,” said Dominic Lusardi, director at Middlesbrough based 3D visualisation web and app development company Annimersion.

“The response we have had from Middlesbrough Council and the Combined Authority has been fantastic in support of businesses.

“It has also been good to see how the business community has pulled together. We’ve found that businesses are looking to see how they can combine and there’s a collaboration that’s becoming more obvious.”

Chloe Clover, creative director at Wander Films, agrees.

“Half of our business physically has to be somewhere but we are fortunate to have a strong digital side so we can still work with clients,” she said.

“The tech sector on Teesside is booming, it is super exciting. There is a lot of unknown but within the tech sector it has given us space for innovation. People are creating some really innovative solutions.”

The pros and cons of adapting to new ways of working are something all sectors are experiencing.

Helen Stewart, director at digital agency Calm Digital, said the team response has been something she’s taken positivity from. They meet with each other and with clients every day.

“The team have worked extremely well, everyone has been so positive,” she said.

“We have seen an impact, clients have put things on hold but we have also taken on new projects, a lot of clients have fantastic new ideas we’ve been talking about.”

Firms are also seeing the value of things like online training, says Dominic, previously regarded as less acceptable than face to face.

The first ever Tees Tech Awards, organised by Tees Business, were due celebrate the region’s thriving digital in April. Covid-19 meant the awards ceremony was furloughed, instead the event is going ahead virtually.

The online celebration, to be broadcast on YouTube, is exciting, say the trio. It gives the sector something to look forward to and more importantly, is a way of celebrating the innovative tech talent on offer.

“It shows that the tech sector in the Tees Valley has not stopped, it is still going with great gusto and the awards going ahead show that digital tees business is still open for business,” said Dominic.

“It is a really good time to be shining a spotlight on the opportunities available in the Tees Valley.”