AN organisation which helps students to start businesses in the digital sector has won £1.9m of European funding.
Teesside University’s DigitalCity Innovation programme says the European Regional Development Fund cash will mean it can expand its work supporting fellowships, organise work placements and support businesses which will mean it creates jobs and improves students’ digital skills.
Laura Woods, director of academic enterprise at Teesside University, said: “We are delighted the ERDF has recognised the work DCI has done in developing digital talent, businesses and expertise in the region. This funding will allow us to continue our work and to develop other areas of DCI.
“Since 2008 almost 200 companies have been created which has made a big economic impact on the Tees Valley.
“We have positioned DCI, and the Tees Valley as a whole, as a centre of digital academic excellence and expertise. This funding means our work in this area can continue to grow and build upon the already thriving digital community we have founded here.”
Coun Neil Foster, deputy chair of the ERDF local management committee, which engages key partners in the overseeing of the strategic delivery of the programme in the North East, said: "This project builds on the successful DigitalCity initiative which is helping to nurture and grow digital and creative industries and ensure talented graduates stay in the North East to develop their digital skills.
"It will help graduates to forge a successful career and also allow local businesses to reap the rewards from their skills and knowledge, creating jobs and boosting longevity and performance."
DCI fellowships offer a £4,000 payment for living costs, expert business start-up mentoring and an Innovation Training Programme which helps to develop their business skills.
Mark Hill, DCI technical director, said: “This funding is recognition of the huge importance of digital in the Tees Valley.
“DCI fellowships have created flourishing companies in the digital sector and companies are emerging all the time.
“We are looking forward to working with digital fellows with engineering, science and technology backgrounds to launch even more new companies in the region.
“And we are extending our outreach to more traditional industries so they can see how digital can help their business to grow. Being ahead of the pack can give one firm a direct competitive advantage over another.”
The programme began eight years ago to create a cluster of digital media technology companies on Teesside and to work with graduates to grow it.