World-renowned speakers joined educators, politicians, investors, industry leaders and delegates attended a major conference on how to grow the north-east’s burgeoning IT sector.

More than 350 delegates from large and small IT and digital companies visited Dynamo 17 at Durham University on Sunday, July 2.

Entitled Tech Boom North East: Spotlight on the opportunity, the event was organised by industry-led body Dynamo, and hosted by James Ashton, former City Editor of the Sunday Times.

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It featured three plenary sessions, including one looking at The Next Big Thing and another at How to Build a Successful Tech Business in the North East, and 15 targeted workshops led by over 70 speakers from the sector.

Workshops included Cyber Resilience; Government Digital Transformation; Through Data; Constructive Clustering; AI Bots and Voice and Advanced Manufacturing.

Prof James Woudhuysen, a leading expert on innovation listed 16 areas he believed the region’s tech sector should explore in order to grow.

dynamo

James Ashton welcomes delegates to Dynamo 17

These areas included mass-manufactured buildings; shale gas and oil; subsea technologies; service robots for old people; electric cars and robot commercial vehicles; quantum technologies and virtual reality technology.

Prof Woudhuysen, visiting professor at London South Bank University, and one of the Europe’s most respected speakers on the future of IT, said: “You need to know the world around you – understand what is really happening - in order to identify the opportunities for the sector.”

“The debate shouldn’t be about tax and regulation, it should be about productivity and the right sort of regulation.

“The north east has an interest in a lot of these areas and could further exploit them. I’m not flattering the north east, it’s happening, as long as it doesn’t concentrate too much on it start-ups.”

One of the best-attended workshops looked at the region’s digital skills shortage and was led by Alison Shaw, principal at Northern Futures UTC, and Dynamo co-founder Bob Paton, former Managing Director at Accenture.

The session explored what needed to be done to fill the estimated 2,000 to 3,000 vacant roles that currently exist in the regional sector.

Charlie Hoult, chair of Dynamo, was delighted with how the conference had gone.

He said: “By lunchtime our 350 delegates had learnt about global shipping services from AkzoNobel; the techonology behind getting Nissan to build a car every minute and how HMRC writes an app that may have nine million users for Universal Credit, getting 1,000 users on X-box.

“Our speakers were great fun, but also challenged the region’s IT sector to be better and do better. Dynamo 17 was also a fantastic networking opportunity – it has become a must-attend event in the regional calendar and there is no better occasion for those working in the 35,000-strong regional tech sector to catch-up – and also to learn and think.

“The conference was further confirmation that tech in the north east is alive and busy.”

Dynamo 17’s headline sponsor was Sage - and Durham County Council, Durham University, NELEP, Accenture, Newcastle University, Newcastle College, North East Futures UTC, Forfusion and Business Durham were also sponsors.

Dynamo was set up in 2013 by Mr Hoult and Mr Paton and is made up of IT organisations and employers, technology hubs, universities, colleges and local government. It provides a focal point for the sector, promoting it within the region and nationally.