Teesside – the UK’s Silicon Valley?

Tees Business Digital Media Pack

The future is here – and it’s starting on Teesside. Tees Business spoke to one local software firm to find out how the region is leading the way when it comes to digital.

Over the past few months, digital communications have come into their own – with Teesside at the forefront of the revolution.

With a further round of lockdown restrictions recently imposed and talk, at the time of writing, of the potential for national measures, it is vital for businesses of all types to keep investing in the technology that could mean make or break.

While an extra outlay during these tough times is perhaps the last thing on business owners’ minds, it is worth remembering that those firms that had already invested in digital were best placed to keep business going during the pandemic.

Paul Drake, operations manager at digital software specialists Sapere, said: “With many businesses forced into home-working at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, those that already had the technology in place were ready to hit the ground running.

“However, it is also vital to keep evolving and innovating even during times of crisis, and the beauty of digital is how quickly and easily it can be implemented.

“Take our Quevel app, for example. We developed this mobile app to show users how full a shop or business is at a given time of the day during lockdown, and it was ready to go by the end of July, when restrictions were eased.”

It is no coincidence that such innovations are coming from Teesside-based firms; the region is fast gaining a reputation as the Silicon Valley of the North.

As Paul explains: “While digital technology – like many industries – is quite London-centric, we have a fantastic scene up here in Teesside.

“It started about 20 years ago with Teesside University, which really championed tech and software, and saw its potential – it was very much ahead of the curve.

“The knock-on effect of that now is we have access to some really fantastic graduate talent, who are behind businesses that have made their home in Teesside, producing tech that is used around the world.”

Paul points to the work of the university and TWI, one of the world’s foremost independent research and technology organisations, in creating more innovations in terms of getting solutions to market.

Earlier this year, the two launched two new innovation centres in Middlesbrough, designed to help companies to reduce the impact of their operations on the environment.

Having itself started through the university’s business incubator at Teesside Launchpad, Sapere has developed its relationship with the scheme in recent years by rolling out its Sapere Sessions, advisory seminars focusing on taking an idea for an app and turning it into a piece of software.

Sapere also works closely with the university’s DigitalCity initiative, which was set up in 2001 to equip businesses with the knowledge, skills and tools they need to thrive in the ever-expanding digital world.

Paul said: “DigitalCity has been a real force for good in the Tees Valley, providing a space for collaboration and innovation in the region.

“Many of our recent projects – such as working with Jacksons Law Firm on their digital transformation – have come about through DigitalCity, and it’s great to see them working with all types of businesses to help them see how technology can improve their working practices.”

Sapere has recently filmed the first episode of a series about tech in the Tees Valley. Look out for ExperTEES launching soon on its social channels.

For more information on Sapere and its services, visit sapere.co.uk.