A Teesside University initiative dedicated to the digital transformation of Tees Valley businesses has been recognised with a prestigious national award.

The University picked up the Knowledge Exchange/ Transfer Initiative of the Year trophy at this year’s THE Leadership and Management Awards (THELMAs), for the contribution of DigitalCity to economic growth in the area.

The awards – celebrating their 10th anniversary this year – recognise outstanding work across management, the professional services and administration of the UK’s world-leading higher education institutions.

Launched in early 2017, in the wake of the SSI steelworks closure, the DigitalCity – Catalyst for Growth strategy outlined a five-point plan for the area to become recognised as a leading digital hub for businesses.

DigitalCity – a partnership between the University and the Tees Valley Combined Authority – was designed to work with both digital and non-digital businesses to stimulate digital innovation and investment, building on a series of recommendations made by Lord Heseltine to create a “strong and sustainable economic future” for the area.

As part of the five-point plan, Teesside University focused on nurturing digital start-ups as well as supporting the digital growth of existing businesses. It took action to provide businesses with research capability and expertise to assist their growth and improve their competitiveness, thus helping to prepare them for the fourth industrial revolution and the rise of automation.

The University has also been working to foster digital skills and talent, equipping individuals and businesses with the cutting-edge knowledge and skills needed to face a changing workplace and economy.

Since the 2016-17 academic year, more than 40 new digital businesses have been created with help from the scheme.

DigitalCity has an established track record of driving innovation and supporting digital growth in the region. It was also recently acknowledged in the TechNation 2018 report as one the driving factors in the creation of a thriving tech sector in the Tees Valley.

The THELMA judges praised Teesside University as a “driving force behind the digital transformation of the Tees Valley’s economy, playing a vital role in connecting the region to new opportunities and networks”.

Vice-Chancellor of Teesside University, Professor Paul Croney, said: “This is fantastic recognition of the extremely important role that Teesside University and DigitalCity play in the economic success of our region.

“We are delighted to have received this award and it is a testament to the hard work of our enterprise and business engagement staff as well as the invaluable support of our partners in the public and private sectors.”

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “Congratulations to Teesside University and DigitalCity on receiving this well-deserved award.

“The evolving digital sector in Tees Valley is a vital element of our business landscape and DigitalCity has done a fantastic job of helping to inspire and encourage a whole new generation of entrepreneurs and their companies.

“I am also delighted that the successful role of DigitalCity in the Tees Valley has once again received national recognition”

Pro Vice-Chancellor (Enterprise and Business Engagement), Professor Jane Turner OBE DL, added: “As an anchor institution for the region, helping to drive forward economic growth, it is vital that the University takes a leading role in stimulating the take-up of digital technologies across all sectors.

“The DigitalCity – Catalyst for Growth strategy has already made enormous impact in this regard and we will continue to support the regeneration of the Tees Valley by driving innovation, growing skills and supporting industry with academic expertise underpinned by research.”

Laura Woods, Chair of DigitalCity and Director of Academic Enterprise at Teesside University, said: “Given the importance of the collaboration between Teesside University and the Tees Valley Combined Authority in delivering the Industrial Strategy, this is excellent news.”

For more information on DigitalCity visit www.thedigitalcity.com