A delegation of government officials and senior business leaders from South Korea visited Sunderland this week as part of a partnership that aims to share learning and accelerate the growth of digital businesses in the UK and the East Asian nation.
During the visit the delegation, which included directors of policy and innovation and technology entrepreneurs, were given an overview of Sunderland’s technology sector and cultural engagement programmes.
The two-day tour took in visits to the University of Sunderland’s FabLab and National Glass Centre, an overview of the Sunderland MAC Trust and a tour of the Sunderland Software Centre, where the guests met local software companies and found out more about the Sunderland Software City initiative growing the city’s digital community.
The delegation were also given an overview of the work of Tech North, the government funded initiative tasked with accelerating the development of the North’s digital economy.
The visit follows the Creative Economy Innovation Festival Conference in Daejeon, South Korea in August 2015 at which Sunderland Software City Chief Executive David Dunn delivered the keynote speech on creating the right ecosystem of support and opportunities that has supported the growth of the tech cluster in the North East of England.
The two-day conference, attended by South Korean President Park Geun-hye, celebrated the launch of 18 new Korean Centres for Creative Economy and Innovation (CCEI) which aim to nurture the country’s digital start-up ecosystem and strengthen links with tech clusters around the world.
David Dunn said: “We are delighted to welcome Don Seop KIM and Jung Hwan Lee from the Daejeon Metropolitan City Council and their colleagues to Sunderland on the first stop of a tour of UK technology clusters.
“Having being invited to address the Creative Economy Innovation Festival Conference to talk about the success and growth of the software sector in the North East of England we are committed to forging stronger ties and connecting tech SMEs with new opportunities, business training and mentoring programs in both countries to help accelerate the growth of digital businesses in the UK and South Korea.”
The visit coincides with the release of the Tech Nation report 2016 which showed a 17% increase in employment in the tech sector in Sunderland between 2011-14 and a 44% increase in company turnover during the same period.
Councillor Paul Watson, Leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “If we want an example of hi-tech world-wide technology and trade, then it must be the international software and IT industries.
“The last ten years have seen growth in Sunderland’s software and IT sectors and there are now more than 3,500 people in our city employed and specialising in this sector.
“This South Korean delegation shows there is growing international recognition that Sunderland is a global hub for technological innovation in software.”