We don't need to tell you that 2020 was an unexpectedly crazy year that's changed the way we have been doing business. As we're nearing 2021, our team reflect on 2020 and their favourite highlights.

David Dunn, Chief Executive:

"I think it goes without saying this year has been different! We’ve seen digital come to the fore, with many organisations looking at digital adoption to overcome challenges of working in a pandemic and tech companies introducing new products and services to the market to cater for new needs.

SSC has reacted to these changes valiantly, some highlights include providing digital workshops for retailers, working with charities to see their services move onto digital platforms and continuing our support for new digital business creation. Our skills provision has shifted everything to remote delivery ensuring education of the future digital workforce doesn’t stop and we continue to champion the needs of the sector regionally and nationally through our work with the UK Tech Cluster Group.

Next year will no doubt see more changes and we will continue to listen and react…"

Jill McKinney, Head of Skills & Training:

"Whilst virtual delivery of our skills programs has been really well received and gives us the opportunity to engage with more students & teaching staff, we are very much looking forward to getting back out to schools, colleges and universities and opening up the world of work. We have learned a lot this year and are excited for the coming year where we aim to deliver a blended program with a mix of physical & virtual activities.

An example of such an activity is our upcoming Tech Talent, which will take place next year to help match employers and training providers with talent in tech."

Jamie Hardesty, Head of Communications:

"In a year disrupted by Covid-19 I’m really proud by how our team have reacted. Through increased business engagement and wider sector liaison, we’ve helped to plug immediate problems faced by North East tech companies, while working with regional and national partners to help futureproof the longer term vitality of our ecosystem. We’ve ran a number of campaigns lobbying sector needs and continued to showcase the world-class success stories we have on our doorstep. I’m particularly proud of the growing influence and positive impact achieved via our role in Chairing the UK Tech Cluster Group. The Recovery Roadmap event and subsequent report saw us work closely with government to help the tech sector bounce back from Covid, while the 12 Clusters of Tech campaign has brought regional ecosystems closer together and allowed us to create new opportunities for leading tech companies headquartered in all corners of the UK. Next year SSC will continue to champion the NE tech sector on the national stage and ensure our ecosystem’s workforce and stable of ambitious companies are supported in reaching their ambitions and potential."

Jenny Lang, Interim Head of Innovation:

"In 2020, we've delivered new projects aimed at supporting traditionally non-digital organisations to work with tech SMEs to implement digital solutions. To date, the North East Tech Fund has supported nine local charities and social enterprises to adopt new digital solutions and in doing so, enabled five digital SMEs to gain new commercial contracts. Through the Unlock The City programme Sunderland-based Arts, Creative and Cultural organisations and individuals were supported via introductory sessions to new emerging technologies which included remote sessions from our immersive lab at PROTO. Lastly, this year Kielder Water and Forest Park successfully appointed Middlesbrough-based Animmersion to develop and prototype a virtual reality experience which will enhance visitors' knowledge and understanding of Kielder's precious ospreys."

Adam Hill, Head of Digital Adoption:

"This year has seen us begin our activities to support businesses and organisations in adopting digital technologies and I'm excited to have started my role as the Head of Digital Adoption to drive these initiatives. We've secured new partnerships and funding to roll out events, workshops and one-to-one support across Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland for the next three years. A new team of technology experts will be recruited early next year to help SMEs progress on their digital journey and crucial work with sector specialist partners will help us define the needs in the region and address the key challenges they are facing using technology."

Sophie Peel, Business Support Manager:

"Our Business Support service has been adapting to the changing needs of the business world in 2020, achieved by listening to and acting upon the industry voices we hear. We have embraced digital communications within our own practices, such as attending digital networking sessions and utilising video conferencing for appointments, which has freed up more time for client engagement. Furthermore, we encouraged and supported digital adoption by businesses, many of whom never imagined or believed they could incorporate such tech into their daily activities. 

Whilst it has been a hard year for us all I am blown away by the generosity, resilience and creativeness which has emerged in 2020. With the plans SSC has for 2021, we are excited to continue the relationships we have with existing clients but we also look forward to meeting and supporting new contacts in the new year."