Digital marketing firm Mabo is helping to ensure students’ learning is shaped for employability.

Mabo, which specialises in paid search management, has been working with Teesside University to help prepare students for the future.

Industry experts from Mabo have given guest lectures to students in the University’s Business School and School of Computing, Media & the Arts and have offered input to help shape course content to prepare graduates for work.

The Middlesbrough based business, which works with clients across the country, has close links to the University, with 13 recent graduates now currently working with the firm.

Among them is Aya Hegab, who is working as a data analyst at Mabo, which helps other businesses manage their paid search advertising.

BA (Hons) International Business with Marketing graduate Aya, 23, from Middlesbrough, said: “This is my first graduate job since completing my degree last summer and it is amazing to start my career with such a young, successful company.

“My role involves analysing data, which I was involved in towards the end of my degree so I am able to draw from what I learned in my studies.”

Aya’s manager Dean Yates, Mabo Technology Director, said: “The relationship we have formed with Teesside University has been very positive as we are passionate about helping to retain local talent.

“We are working with international clients, so it is great that Aya has that experience to draw on from her degree.”

He added: “There is a very strong digital presence at Teesside and intern students who have spent time with us have always found it easy to adapt to the workplace.

“Teesside University’s graduates are always very commercially aware and find it easy to make that transition from study to the workplace.”

Norman Day, Head of Student Futures at Teesside University, said: “It is great to see such positive relationships flourishing with local employers such as Mabo. Our Student Futures team are actively involved in preparing students for life beyond graduation.”

Pictured: Aya Hegab, data analyst, with Dean Yates, technology director

Cutting edge tech companies are flocking to the Enterprise Zone at the heart of Middlesbrough’s historic quarter.

The zone – centred on the thriving Boho digital cluster – offers digital companies looking to locate and expand in the area the opportunity to qualify for rate relief for up to five years.

Middlesbrough’s Historic Quarter Enterprise Zone – which also covers the new Albert North development – is one of 12 Enterprise Zones in the Tees Valley.

Companies demonstrating that they belong to the digital/creative technology sector and providing information on how the business intends to grow over the next five years are eligible to apply.

Enterprise Zones are part of the government’s Industrial Strategy aiming to support business growth across the country.

Each Zone is unique, building on the strengths its area to support industries such as manufacturing, emerging technology and renewable energy.

Animmersion – one of the original tenants in the ground-breaking Boho One – quickly established itself in the world of animation going on to become one of the leading UK digital interactive service providers.

Founded by Teesside University Graduates Dominic Lusardi and Sam Harrison in 2006, the company continues to expand.

Animmersion Director Dominic Lusardi said: “From start-up to scale-up Middlesbrough has proved itself to be the perfect location to grow our business.

“Middlesbrough is now recognised as a fast-growing UK digital tech hot spot,

“With the benefit of the Enterprise Zone status and ongoing support from Middlesbrough Council, Teesside University, Digital City and the Combined Authority, this rich digital cluster can only continue to expand.”

Councillor Charlie Rooney, Middlesbrough Deputy Mayor and Executive member for City Centre Strategy, said: “Our Boho zone digital entrepreneurs are the 21st Century equivalents of Bolckow and Vaughan, and that’s the kind of ambition and vision that is setting Middlesbrough apart.

“The Enterprise Zone is an important lever in attracting inward investment and new employment to Middlesbrough, supporting our existing digital base and paving the way for the next generation.”

  • For contact details and an application form visit the Digital page.

A Middlesbrough film company has secured a six-figure investment from NPIF – FW Capital Debt Finance, managed by FW Capital and part of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund (NPIF).

Ithica Films is an independent, award-winning film production company.  It provides a full range of film-related services, from consultancy and strategy, to all aspects of production work for a wide range of clients.

Launched in 2014, Ithica Films has cemented its position as a marketplace leader for creative filmmaking in the North East, with high profile projects delivered in sectors such as renewables, finance, logistics, public sector, chemical process and healthcare.

The directors will use the NPIF – FW Capital Debt Finance investment to help achieve their ambitious growth plans and expand Ithica Film’s marketing presence. The company aims to create an in-house development position while upgrading equipment and expanding their facilities at their Boho One HQ.

Matt McGough, Ithica Films Managing Director, said: “With our creative focus on filmmaking, we’ve built up a strong level of trust with clients and a great body of work.

“We really needed some help to push on to the next level as we had been funding improvements ourselves and this was proving to be a very slow process for us.

“Working with FW Capital was great thanks to their flexible and pragmatic approach. The team guided us through the process and were able to provide this investment which will help our business to continue to grow.”

Keith Charlton, Senior Investment Executive, at FW Capital, said: “Ithica Films has a strong track record of growth over the four years since its formation.

“The management team is creatively passionate, with clear ideas as to the strategy and direction the company should be taking. They have built up a strong pipeline of opportunities supporting future growth prospects. We are delighted to support them and wish them every success for the future.”

Ben Houchen, Tees Valley Mayor, said: “Matt and his team at Ithica Films have established a reputation that is second to none for their inspired and creative work.

“This investment is great news for them as a company, allowing them to grow and expand.  It’s also good news for Middlesbrough as we establish the town as a centre of creativity.

“Companies such as Ithica Films prove that if you want to work in the creative industries you don’t have to leave the region – you can have a thriving career by staying in the Tees Valley.

“This is yet another example of funding for the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund aiding businesses and giving them the assistance they need to succeed.”

Mark Wilcockson,  at British Business Bank, said: “We’re pleased that NPIF has supported Ithica Films in its mission to improve its equipment, office facilities and develop its in-house offering. The company has already established itself as a leader in creative filmmaking in the Tees Valley and we look forward to seeing Ithica use this investment to expand and scale up in the coming months.”

Operating from the British Business Bank’s Sheffield head office, the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund provides a mix of debt and equity funding (£25,000 to £2m).  It works alongside ten Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), the combined authorities and Growth Hubs, as well as local accountants, fund managers and banks, to support Northern-based SMEs at all stages of their development.

The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund project is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and the European Investment Bank.

Budding games designers entered a virtual reality thanks to an industry expert’s visit to Middlesbrough College.

Students at Middlesbrough College created a 3D model of their design studio – and got the chance to see how their model could be evolved, thanks to an inspirational meeting with a local company.

The project formed part of FutureMe, a programme of activity designed to help students understand the educational pathways available to them.

Delivered by the North East Collaborative Outreach Programme (NECOP), students take part in a range of activities that give them a taste of what higher education could be like.

It’s hoped the students’ model will be used to train other learners at the College, including trainee electricians who can use it as a learning tool.

Dan Riley, managing director at Teesside-based Spearhead Interactive visited the students with senior 3D artist, Ken Turner, to take a look at the project and offer advice on how it could be turned into a virtual reality (VR) experience.

Dan said: “We have been thrilled to support the passionate students at Middlesbrough College and have enjoyed providing feedback on their model, demonstrating new modelling techniques and offering insight into the applications of 3D visualisation across a number of industries outside of gaming.

“Immersive and interactive technologies are having a significant impact on a wide array of sectors and industries around the world.

“We expect commercial demand for skilled 3D artists to increase greatly as the technology matures – and these students are well placed to take advantage of this.”

Mark Lord, programme leader for HE Games Design at Middlesbrough College, added: “This project has been a fantastic opportunity for our students to understand some of the careers available to them working with new and emerging technologies such as VR.”

Middlesbrough College offers a range of games design courses aimed at students at all levels – from entry level to Access to Higher Education (HE) options.

A high-tech new tenant is joining a vibrant new business community in central Middlesbrough.

Fast-growing e-commerce business Salesfire becomes the latest tenant of the vibrant Albert North development.

Launched in 2017, the company provides businesses with solutions to help websites increase their sales.

They will join Mabo Media, Keystage Recruitment, Working Links and Hays Recruitment in 16/26 Albert Road, taking 5,000 sq ft of modern bespoke space.

Tenants of Albert North receive a number of perks, including high-speed broadband, rent and rate incentives, free public health initiatives for all staff and a city centre loyalty card with exclusive discounts and incentives.

Salesfire CEO Richard Himsworth said: “We’ve grown dramatically over the past six months, more than trebling in size with a team of 23 full-time employees.

“Outgrowing our current premises, we needed somewhere which could cope with our ambitions for further growth.

“Our move to Albert Road is a fantastic opportunity, allowing us the space to expand further in an area that’s regenerating and becoming home to many other successful businesses.”

The multi-million-pound regeneration project, which lies on the main thoroughfare of the town, is being driven by local property developers Jomast in partnership with Middlesbrough Council.

Mark Hill, Commercial Property Director at Jomast, said: “The latest letting to Salesfire means that 20,000 sq ft of space has now been taken up at Albert North in under six months which is some achievement and great for the town.”

The development is part of a wider strategy to drive business investment to Middlesbrough’s city centre, and will also include a food and beverage offer, with the announcement of a vegan café to open this year. Alkaline Kitchen is due to open in January, serving a 100% plant-based menu from Monday to Saturday.

The strategy also includes significant investment to the rail station and the development of Grade A office space on Centre Square.

Michelle McPhee, City Centre Manager at Middlesbrough Council, said: “We’re thrilled that businesses are already responding positively to the offer at Albert North.

“The development will further entice creative and digital businesses to move into the centre of Middlesbrough, complementing our already thriving digital sector based in the Boho Zone.

“Providing suitable office space to a wide variety of businesses is a key component of our strategy to create vibrant city centre in Middlesbrough, in addition to further developing our retail and leisure sectors.”

Councillor Charlie Rooney, Deputy Mayor and Executive member for City Centre Strategy, said: “Albert North is the latest phase of the ambitious plans we have for our city centre.

“A thriving business community is key to a prosperous future for Middlesbrough and the wider city region, and we will continue to work with a range of partners to deliver a vibrant environment for enterprise.”

For more information on Albert North, visit their website.

Creative computing students have devised innovative new software to help simplify work procedures for NHS staff.

Students from Teesside University’s School of Computing, Media & the Arts have created a mobile app which can be used by staff when working away from the office.

The team of students were tasked with finding a solution to a business need to simplify an authorisation form, still complying with NHS improvement guidelines.

Adam Ruddock and Jamie Waters, from North Tees & Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust’s Directorate of Nursing, Patient Safety and Quality, visited the University to meet the final year students who created the app which can be used by trust employees in relation to authorisation.

Adam said: “We were really impressed with what the students came up with and their understanding of the concept. Their solution will allow us to operationally comply with NHS guidance in a live environment, resulting in efficiencies across the organisation.”

Jamie added “We were really impressed with the integration with our workforce systems and the skills of the students. It has been really positive and we are keen to work with the University on more projects like this.”

BSc (Hons) Computing student Matthew Charlton, said: “We were tasked with simplifying an authorisation form which staff need to complete, making it less complex and more user-friendly.”

The students, working as Team Internauts, also included BSc (Hons) Computing student Francesca Zealley, BSc (Hons) Web & Multimedia students Joe Hutchinson and Alex Watson and BA (Hons) Web Production student James Scott.

Matthew added: “Coming together from different degree courses means we brought various skills to the team, ranging from design and development to research and project management.

“It has been really beneficial working with an external client and gaining that experience.”

Dr Myriam Mallett, Senior Lecturer in Digital Media and the Web, said: “Giving students an opportunity to work on live projects and deal with client focused business solutions is vital as it prepares them well for what is to come in their future careers.”

DigitalCity is recruiting Tees Valley-based digital and technology innovators to its first Fellowship Accelerator Programme of 2019.

DigitalCity Fellows benefit from a programme of workshops and bespoke mentoring, as well as a grant of up to £5,000.The programme is designed for early-stage businesses who have been trading for less than 12 months.

Led by Teesside University in partnership with the Tees Valley Combined Authority and part-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), DigitalCity has been responsible for helping to create some of the region’s most successful companies.

As the wider sectors continue to embrace digital technology, the diversity of the businesses DigitalCity supports is expanding. The most recent programme included companies providing digital solutions to problems in the areas of health and end of life care, live music and space technology.

Scott Watson, DigitalCity Cluster Innovation Manager said: “Through the Fellowship Accelerator we support the exciting digital start-ups coming out of the Tees Valley. We’re particularly interested in working with businesses that are involved in transforming traditional sectors with their digital and tech skills. We’re also keen to work with innovators who are commercialising an idea, product or service that they want to develop to seek further investment.”

DigitalCity was acknowledged as one of the key drivers of digital growth in the Tees Valley when Middlesbrough was listed in the Tech Nation 2018 report as being in the vanguard of the UK’s burgeoning digital and hi-tech economy.

Its work on the digital transformation of Tees Valley businesses was also recognised with the ‘Knowledge Exchange/Transfer Initiative of The Year’ at the 2018 Times Higher Education Leadership & Management Awards (THELMA).

The Fellowship Accelerator Programme will be delivered in Boho 5 on Bridge Street East, Middlesbrough, from February – April 2019.

Deadline for applications to the Fellowship Accelerator Programme is 4.00pm on Friday 1 February. If you are interested in applying please call Scott Watson on: 01642 738694 or Email:

Software savvy students will put their knowledge of key programs to the test in a competition that could see the best jetting to New York.

Middlesbrough College is hosting a “MOS Test Fest” – a day of exams that will give students the chance to become Microsoft Office Specialists in Microsoft Office programs such as Excel, Word and Powerpoint.

Scores of computing students will battle it out to get the highest score in the best time possible.

It’s all part of the Microsoft Office Specialist World Championship – a global challenge in which students from hundreds of countries will compete.

Natalie Richards of Prodigy Learning, a training and certification company that has partnered with Middlesbrough College to run Test Fest, explained: “This is a really big opportunity for Middlesbrough College students to prove their skills and knowledge against the clock.

“There’s the added thrill they could go on to compete at national level – in the UK finals at the British Library in June, and then in New York in August against competitors from as far afield as Brazil and Japan.

“The initiative is all about providing critical digital communication skills that employers need, and giving students the certification to prove their competencies in a 50 minute exam.

“Test Fest is about giving students the confidence to say they know their stuff by sharing their digital badge with pride as well as demonstrating a positive attitude to lifelong learning.”

Nicola Loughran, curriculum team leader in Computing and IT at Middlesbrough College, said: “Test Fest might be a competition but there are no losers.

“This is all about helping students to build their employability and Microsoft Office skills are so important to employers across all sectors.

“We’ll have a lot of fun on the day, and students will also get certificates that will help them with their careers.”

Natalie added: “At first, most students have trepidation about doing the tests.

“But once they get into it they become very competitive and focussed on constantly improving their skill level and time.

“They end up having a lot of fun. Of course the opportunity to travel abroad is another reason to get stuck in!”

First place in the Championship wins $7,000 USD.

A Teessider has “come home” from a 30-year stint in London to head up an established film company’s new northern office in the heart of Middlesbrough’s creative sector.

Creative film-makers Flathead have opened their north-east office in the town’s Boho Four after establishing an outstanding reputation for their commercial work across the UK over the past 10 years.

Independent production company Flathead have amassed an impressive list of clients, from the BBC to ITV and Sky Sports, from Orange and Virgin to Team GB, while one of their highlights was producing, directing and editing ITV’s Big Fish Off and Fishing All-stars, along with trailers and promos.

Having established their reputation from their base in Kent, Flathead’s new north-east office is being led by marketing manager and producer Julie Burniston.

Middlesbrough-born Julie is a former journalist who began her career at Wilton, near Redcar, as part of former chemical giant ICI’s internal communications team before working as a freelance writer for national tabloids and magazine editor.

Julie said: “I’ve enjoyed a fascinating career in the media down south but my heart has always been firmly in the North-East, so I’m proud as punch to be heading up Flathead’s northern office.

“Flathead is a vibrant independent production company and we know all about the importance of video content. We’re bursting with ideas to help North-East firms shout about their abilities, successes, services and products.

Adam Baxter, Flathead’s creative director, added: “The people on Teesside are friendly, passionate and incredibly talented. It’s very exciting to be able to share experiences – and, although Julie is in charge of Flathead North, I will certainly be involved in any projects she secures.”

To kick-off their new focus on the North-East, they recently shot a short film for Teesside Philanthropic Foundation on their sellout Annual Ball at Wynyard Hall, an event that raised £78,000 for disadvantaged local families.

“It was the company’s first northern commission and a fantastic one at that!” said Julie. “It was an incredible introduction to the area for Flathead and we’ve had lots of fantastic feedback.

“In fact, it’s already led to some fantastic leads that we’re hopeful will result in us producing films for a number of successful Teesside companies. It’s all happening very quickly for us.

“We’re firm believers in giving back to the area so we’ll always endeavour to embrace local talent. Flathead used a local crew member when we filmed for the Philanthropic Foundation and we’ll certainly use him again for further commissions.”

Teesside Charity Ball 2018 from Teesside Charity on Vimeo.

Teesside University and Hartlepool Sixth Form College are pooling their collective expertise to provide even more opportunities for young people to excel with specialist digital qualifications.

The two institutions have signed a formal Memorandum of Understanding which will see increased collaboration and engagement for the benefit of students on a broad range of courses.

Hartlepool Sixth Form College and Sunderland College successfully merged last year and jointly they have invested over £400,000 in highly specialised, industry standard digital facilities.

This includes the very first Digital Academy within Hartlepool Sixth Form College with virtual reality labs, green screen facilities, motion capture equipment and Playstation 4 Development kit.

The college is also one of a small number in the country to offer NextGen qualifications and it works with some of the industry’s top employers, including Sony, Microsoft, Double Negative and Ubisoft.

The first cohort of students in the Digital Academy are studying Games Design and Animation and there are plans to launch further courses in Computer Science, Cyber Security and Coding at A-level or equivalent.

The College has signed the Memorandum of Understanding with Teesside University as a way to develop progression pathways into higher education and to provide additional opportunities for students, as well as to collaborate on research training, events and staff development.

Teesside University’s School of Computing, Media & the Arts is at the forefront of digital technology and is a centre of excellence in the creative and digital aspects of computing, games and animation, web and multimedia.

It is also home to Animex, one of the world’s largest festivals of animation and computer games which, next year, celebrates its 20th anniversary.

The School provides a world-class learning environment with cutting edge hardware and software and its graduates have gone on to work at some of the biggest studios in animation and computer games, including Disney, Pixar, Microsoft and the BBC.

Alison Brown, Associate Dean (Marketing and Recruitment) in Teesside University’s School of Computing, Media & the Arts, said: “We are delighted to sign this new Memorandum of Understanding and it demonstrates the desire of both institutions to provide the very best opportunities in digital technology. It is about continuing to put the student experience at the heart of everything we do and sharing knowledge and best practice to build on the fantastic work which is already being carried out.

“The scale and ambition of Hartlepool Sixth Form College to enhance its digital offer is second to none and its Digital Academy is a wonderful new facility which will equip students with the knowledge, skills, and experience to make a successful transition into higher education.”

Ellen Thinnesen, Principal and Chief Executive, has overall responsibility for both Hartlepool Sixth Form College and Sunderland College.

She added: “We are delighted to be working so closely with Teesside University and to sign a formal Memorandum of Understanding with an institution which has a global reputation for games, animation and digital technology.

“We are at the start of an exciting journey at Hartlepool Sixth Form College and by working collaboratively with staff and students at Teesside University, I am confident that we can achieve great things together.”

Mark Hughes, Head of Hartlepool Sixth Form College, said: “We are extremely passionate about our Digital Academy and believe we have a first-class facility which is vitally important to young people in this area.

“It is a huge step change for the college and, by strengthening our partnership with Teesside University, we will be able to provide even more opportunities in what is a rapidly developing sector.”