Immersive technology in the North East
Immersive technology is optimising the design, construction, operations and maintenance of assets across sectors including renewable energy, maritime and advanced manufacturing.
The North East has a thriving manufacturing sector and an extensive and differentiated emerging technology support infrastructure. Combined, this has created a truly unique and collaborative cluster.
Foreign direct investment
Green finance and innovation
Sector and market opportunity
Demand for next-generation immersive technologies is growing as the UK’s manufacturing sector actively seeks new solutions to improve manufacturing efficiency and reduce emissions.
The North East of England is in an excellent position to lead the global immersive technology market, offering businesses the opportunity to service growing world demand. Work with the existing local digital and immersive tech community and utilise key capabilities including PROTO and the Digital Catapult North East and Tees Valley to design, develop and commercialise new immersive technology.
There are increased requirements for industries to operate more sustainably and reduce carbon emissions. Immersive technology can support this by optimising design and construction, operations and ongoing inspection and maintenance of assets across key sectors including maritime, advanced manufacturing, healthcare, and renewables.
The technology also supports health and safety training, reducing the need for travel and thereby lowering carbon footprints.
Electrification is a real growth area for the region and presents good opportunities for immersive tech. This is highlighted by British Volt who are creating a training and education hub and have put out an open call for immersive tech companies to pitch.
The region contains a cluster of international firms from the digital and advanced manufacturing sectors. As a testbed location, companies here can work with a nationally significant and collaborative advanced manufacturing base to develop immersive technology products.
Immersive tech businesses, headquartered in the region, and operating on a global scale, include ZeroLight, Dimension, hedgehog lab, Coatsink and VRAI.
The region provides direct access to locations worldwide, with flights to major cities via Newcastle International Airport.
There are fast and frequent rail links to London (2.45 hours), Birmingham (3 hours), Manchester (2.3 hours) and Edinburgh (1.3 hours).
Tyne and Wear benefits from a light rail system with over 60 stations and some of the least congested roads, with an average commute to work of less than 30 minutes.
The region also has excellent digital infrastructure including Stellium data centre and the fastest broadband speed in England.
Local talent and skills
About 32,500 employees are in the digital and tech sector.
The 5 world class universities offer courses aimed at the immersive technology sector.
Numerous networks help influence, and connect businesses to suppliers and customers, such as Immerse UK and The Digital Catapult North East Tees Valley.
PROTO, a dedicated centre for emerging technology, provides businesses with access to a state-of-the-art research and development facility.
Research and expertise
The region is complemented by access to world class research and opportunities to collaborate. There are a range of expertise available, including R&D collaborations at Teesside University and Newcastle College, as well as programmes at Creative Fuse North East. Other assets include a Centre for Immersive Technologies and the National Innovation Centre for Data.
North of England
The North of England is recognised as a global centre for creativity and design and attracts thriving international investment. This heritage of expertise and manufacturing know-how is well established on the world stage, and historically gave birth to the Industrial Revolution.
Enabling clean growth
The global immersive technology market is predicted to reach £71 billion by 2025. The region is the leader in the industry, with strengths in early immersive adopter sectors such as advanced manufacturing, engineering, maritime and renewables.
Sectors are looking to disrupt traditional processes and deliver solutions to real challenges. They’re seeking immersive technology applications to optimise their manufacturing and resource efficiency.
Local and national government support
Manufacturing digitisation and immersive technologies are at the heart of government and local strategy and the North East will play a huge role in ensuring the UK meets these challenges and opportunities.
The creative industries sector deal pledges joint investment in a strategic innovation challenge set to transform creative content and immersive technologies like virtual (VR), augmented (AR) and mixed reality (MR).
Komatsu is a Japanese manufacturing company employing more than 400 workers in the North East and specialising in hydraulic tracked excavators.
The company has implemented a worksite simulator into its training and, with the help of local tech companies, has created a realistic virtual training environment for their employees.
AkzoNobel is a Dutch manufacturing company holding a £14.2 billion turnover and working in 80 countries across the globe.
From its North East base, AkzoNobel chose to work with the Innovation Team at Digital Catapult NETV, who provided horizon scanning services. As a result of this project AkzoNobel went on to work with 3 SMEs to produce proof of concepts in partnership with their teams, including one hologram project.
Dyer Engineering is a group of fabrication and machining businesses with a wide range of capabilities to manufacture metal components and structures. Dyer has been serving sectors including rail, automotive, defence and oil and gas from its site in County Durham.
Dyer participated in the Digital Catapult NETV’s digital manufacturing programme pilot in 2018 and has recently developed a proof of concept for a VR factory tour provided by a local tech start-up.
Compound semiconductors and applications in South Wales
South Wales is pioneering the way forward in designing, developing, and commercialising the compound semiconductors needed for a net zero economy.
Circular economy in Telford
The UK is leading the uptake and recycling of electronic waste (e-waste) and in Telford, investors can access a growing cluster of circular economy companies. They focus on large appliance e-waste and use the talent and wider industry ecosystem to seize the opportunities in this sector.
Wastefront waste tyre recycling plant, Sunderland
Wastefront AS is offering an opportunity to invest around £100 million in the construction of a waste tyre recycling plant in Sunderland.
Hunterston Marine Yard in Scotland
A shovel-ready opportunity to invest in the re-commissioning of one of Europe’s largest dry docks, providing much needed capacity to the UK’s growing offshore wind farm industry.
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