Plans to develop a £50m national innovation centre in Newcastle city centre have been approved by the city council.

The innovation centre on Science Central will bring together businesses, academics and the public to support the research and development of new ageing and data-oriented products and services.

The building will be home to Newcastle University's teams from the National Innovation Centre for Ageing (NICA), the National Innovation Centre for Data (NICD) and the National Institute for Health Research Innovation Observatory (NIHRIO).

"The National Innovation Centre will provide national leadership on the global question ‘how do we age well?'", said NICA director Mike Catt.

"By 2050, the number of people in the world aged 60 years or over is projected to more than double, reaching nearly 2.1 billion. This globally ageing population presents many challenges around quality of life and health and wellbeing amongst others as well as multiple economic and social opportunities.

"Similarly, the explosion of digital data has the potential to transform business and public services products worldwide, offering huge opportunity for the investigation and application of new processes and services."

Professor Paul Watson, principal investigator for the NICD, added: "Vast amounts of data are now being generated by people, software and sensors. 

"Companies in every sector of the economy see the potential to use this data to transform their productivity and launch new products. However, because of a world-wide skills shortage, few organisations are able to realise these benefits.

"The National Innovation Centre for Data will create a unique facility bringing together industry, researchers and students to address this challenge. It will enable industry to unleash the huge potential for innovation offered by the explosive growth in digital data, so benefitting the UK economy and society.

"The exciting new building will act as a beacon for innovation, attracting companies from around the world, and placing the North East as a global leader in this vital area."

Designs for the building have been developed by a team at GSSArchitecture. Construction work is due to begin soon with the building scheduled for opening in 2020.