Developing Consensus member Fergus Trim, Director of Broadoak Asset Management, addresses the region’s digital infrastructure offering.
As I documented most recently in my North East Times article, digital infrastructure investment is of ‘critical importance’ to the region. While we’ve made many significant improvements over the past few years, there is still work to do in order to put us on the map as a go-to location based upon our digital offering.
Ultimately, championing the region for its forward-thinking digital infrastructure agenda should be a top priority in order to influence property investment decisions and corporations looking to relocate and recruit.
There currently seems to be a disconnect between the positive messages we have been hearing about Stellium and Newcastle’s digital infrastructure, and actual on the ground availability, with Property Week recently giving the city a poor score for digital connectivity in its hot office locations analysis.
Newcastle was one of the first cities to pilot G.Fast technology, and although the region’s campaign to be one of the first test beds for 5G was unsuccessful, we cannot let this slow us down and must keep taking steps forward.
What I’d like to see is the expansion of the Go Digital Free Wifi Zone to cities across the North East, as well as G.Fast technology along with Fibre To The Premises (FTTP), extended further throughout the region.
Looking at more long-term goals, further investment in education and skills focused on digital technology is absolutely crucial. Most recently Durham was chosen by the government as one of 12 locations to have an ‘Institute of Technology,’ offering young people high-quality skills training.
The Durham location, in particular, will utilise local colleges, Newcastle University and Nissan, to create a specialism in ‘Digital Advanced Manufacturing,’ a targeted skill set which could potentially attract the attention of larger manufacturers looking to relocate.
On the property side, the development of further collaborative working spaces that embrace digital requirements is already underway with businesses in Quorum’s Neon building, Hoults Yard and Sunderland’s Software City already reaping the rewards.
If we can showcase the above, and our future plans as a region in-line with the digital infrastructure we already have in place, this would make an incredibly strong case to businesses making location decisions and ultimately encourage further investment in the region.
Although many seem like long-term goals we must keep up the momentum, and for Developing Consensus as a collective it’s vital for us to continue collaborating and working together to overcome issues and ensure the North East is a region known for its digital excellence.