Teesside University’s Middlesbrough campus is to become a £5.6 million enterprise zone, providing a dynamic environment for new entrepreneurs and established companies to grow through digital innovation.

The Innovate Tees Valley University Enterprise Zone (UEZ) will build on the University’s established track record in helping tech start-ups, with the development of two enterprise hubs on its Middlesbrough campus.

Underpinned by academic strengths in digital technologies (including AI, augmented reality and intelligent gaming) and a focus on interdisciplinary working, the UEZ will be the driver for increased tech start-ups and productivity growth through digitalisation in priority sectors for the Tees Valley.  With all academic Schools involved, it will expand opportunities for university-business collaborations leading to new digital products and processes, new business creation, and recruitment and retention of graduates in the Tees Valley.

The UEZ will be part-funded by a £1.485m capital grant from the Research England Development Fund, matched by the University, and levering in at least a further £2.6m  over the next three years.  Key partners and supporters include the Tees Valley Combined Authority, Middlesbrough Council and Tees Valley local authorities, Double Eleven, Visualsoft, Cubic, Amazing Interactives, R8 Games, the North East England Chamber of Commerce and MAKE UK.

Work for the UEZ will include re-purposing the existing Launchpad start-up centre and Phoenix Building to provide exciting and transformative incubation, collaboration and acceleration space on campus, including additional start-up and grow-on units, games studios, co-working and maker spaces and events facilities.

Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of Teesside University, Professor Paul Croney, welcomed the news, saying: “This is a hugely positive development for the area.  The UEZ will place Teesside University and its focus on enterprise, innovation and growth firmly at the heart of the Tees Valley economy.  It reflects our key mission as an anchor institution driving economic growth in the region.

“Teesside University has an excellent reputation for creating and sustaining digital start-ups and, by working alongside our established academic expertise in business and digital technologies, we look forward to delivering a new pipeline of sustainable, high-growth businesses into the Tees Valley business sector.”

Ben Houchen, Tees Valley Mayor, said: “The Tees Valley is already home to world-class digital companies, many stem from graduates of the University. As we look to drive forward growth in this vital sector, we need to make sure we are providing the top-quality facilities businesses need to help them

“Increasing the number of opportunities and suitable spaces for scale-up companies is key to the region’s economic growth. This investment will help drive innovation and growth through digital technology and create the industries for the future, ensuring well paid, high-quality jobs are available for generations to come.”

Science Minister Chris Skidmore said: “Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy, and Teesside has a thriving ecosystem of local businesses and entrepreneurs whose creativity and determination help underpin the UK’s position as a leading innovator.

“Alongside this, many of Teesside’s research community are right on the precipice of turning ground-breaking ideas into real products and services which could change the lives not just of people in the local community, but people around the world.

“Today’s funding will not only help local scientists take their ideas from lab to market – but will also support an enterprise hub at Teesside University. Providing space for local businesses to forge crucial partnerships, the UEZs will create jobs, drive local growth and provide SMEs with a vital stepping stone to succeed.”

Pictured: The UEZ will see the Phoenix Building (pictured) and the Launchpad start-up centre re-purposed into exciting and transformative incubation, collaboration and acceleration space