ABOVE PICTURE: From left, Daniel Watson, head of Cluster Development, DigitalCity Business; Laura Woods, director of Academic Enterprise, Teesside University; David Jeffries, head of DigitalCity; Malcolm Taylor, head of DigitalCity Business; and Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Business Engagement) Professor Cliff Hardcastle

A PROJECT that began life as a support service for a handful of digital students, and became the launchpad for hundreds of North-East companies, yesterday celebrated its 10th anniversary.

Bosses at DigitalCity said the scheme had created more than 537 new jobs and 264 companies, as well as attracted 12 businesses from outside the area, and supported 515 new businesses, since it's inception at Teesside University.

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At a celebration event in Boho One, the project's flagship building in Middlesbrough, David Jeffries, the head of DigitalCity , announced the direction the organisation will be taking in its next decade,

“DigitalCity is moving forward, and as the digital economy expands ever more it will work to help industry to embrace digital in a way that hasn’t happened yet," said Mr Jeffries.

“Our work will look at how DigitalCity can help enterprises in the Tees Valley to use digital to expand, create better businesses, train and access new markets.

“Experts predict that there will be a massive shortage of digital skills in the coming years and we are brilliantly placed to work to fill that gap.

“DigitalCity and Teesside University are working together with schools and colleges to make sure young people know about the great opportunities in the digital sector," he added.

Firms attending the event, including Seed Animation, which is now based in London,and Animmersion in Boho One said DigitalCity had given them the support to make their ideas a reality.

Laura Woods, director of Academic Enterprise at Teesside University, has been involved with the scheme since the start.

"10 years ago no one could have predicted how much the digital world would become an integral part of our day-to-day lives," she said.

"At the time people were sceptical. It required strength of mind and vision to say - We are willing to take the risk with this, as we can see the impact could have on the local economy.

"The partnership that has been built since then, between the university, local authorities, development agencies and business has been key to its success."

Cliff Hardcastle, Teesside University deputy vice chancellor, said: “DigitalCity is a city of progress – one that is making a real difference to the Tees Valley.

“As DigitalCity expands we will build even more businesses and continue to attract other companies in from outside the area.

“As we move towards the next 10 years I have every confidence that DigitalCity will continue to build on its already great reputation.”

Kevin Parkes, the executive director for Neighbourhoods and Communities at Middlesbrough Council, said: “The great thing about the businesses in DigitalCity is that they create wealth - and that wealth is absolutely critical to this area.

“DigitalCity has a bright future. We need to let young people know about the great opportunities in digital.

“Our intention is to create opportunities that these businesses can benefit from and that help to keep them in this economy.