SUNDERLAND Software City took the North East software sector to the world this autumn as it led a trade mission to China.
The trip, organised in partnership with UKTI and One North East, gave local companies a chance to explore new markets and meet new customers, as well as opening up opportunities for joint ventures with other international software companies.
Software City is the regional initiative supporting the growth of the software sector in the North East, where the local new media, games and software industry is now worth over £250m a year.
The initiative is also working to make the North East the location of choice for the international software industry.
“Our aim is always to go the extra mile, but on this occasion we went almost 14,000 miles in one week,” laughed CEO Bernie Callaghan.
“The software industry truly is a global one – our website has been visited by people in 74 different countries in the last quarter alone – and the nature of the sector means North East software companies can provide their services to businesses in other countries just as easily as they can nationally.
“The key is offering the most effective and innovative products and the quality of the software coming out of the North East means we can compete on such a global level.
“China is a massive market, not just in terms of its sheer size but also in terms of its increasing economic power. This is a country which has been experiencing double digit economic growth while much of the world has been in recession.”
The trip took in three stops in less than a week: Harbin, with whom the city of Sunderland has a friendship agreement; Nanjing, where the annual China Software Expo will be taking place; and Shanghai, the centre of Chinese trading.
The trip will not just see North Eastern companies selling their products and expertise, but the North East was sold to Chinese companies as the perfect place to invest.
“Software is a weightless industry so it doesn’t need major infrastructural investment to locate here. The biggest attraction for any company is a talented, innovative workforce, and that, together with the quality of research coming out of our universities, is increasingly what gives the North East an edge,” says Bernie Callaghan.
“Not only does a joint mission give us a larger and more prominent presence at the events we’ll be attending on the trip, it really demonstrates to the rest of the world the scale and quality of the North East software industry.”