Digital Catapult North East & Tees Valley (NETV) got the month off to a good start with the opening of a lab offering access to augmentedvirtual and mixed reality.

One of only four labs of the kind across the UK, at the new North East site businesses can try out new gadgets from the sector, while showcasing their own products and skills.

Immersive tech enthusiasts and non-digital businesses who are keen to learn will also be able to visit for events and demonstrations.

Academic and research institutions interested in collaboration are also welcome.

Naomi Morrow, head of innovation at Sunderland Software City, leads the Digital Catapult NETV.

She said: “[The] launch was a significant moment for the North East, firmly cementing the region’s reputation as a leader in immersive technologies.

“The opening of the lab means that businesses in the North East can now gain hands-on experience with emerging technologies, and receive introductions and knowledge-sharing from other businesses that are involved.

“We’re already seeing the transformative affect these technologies can have in a wide range of sectors, particularly within manufacturing and engineering.

"The Immersive Lab will enable businesses to test ideas and explore new opportunities, and we’re looking forward to hearing more success stories going forward.”

Gateshead Council is now joining Digital Catapult North East and Tees Valley as partners in an industry that’s now valued at £5.4 billion globally.

Cllr John Adams, Gateshead Council’s cabinet member for economy, said: “We are leading the way in attracting new and emerging technology companies to the North East.

“Hosting the North East and Tees Valley Immersive Lab in Gateshead shows our commitment to investing in the future of the region.

“Our new PROTO centre will be the first in the country to provide workspace for digital technology companies and specialist research and development testing facilities."