The University of Sunderland’s new Digital Incubator has been launched to develop and inspire future technology founders and freelancers.
Designed to support the next generation of digital entrepreneurs, the £1.6m initiative – jointly funded by UKRO Research England, the North East LEP, and the university itself – grants its members a physical space within the Sunderland university campus, providing access to academic mentorship opportunities, business workshops, one-to-one advice, and access to kit such as laptops and commercial software licenses.
Businesses have now been running either fully or partly online for the best part of a year, with the pandemic continuing to shape today’s employment market. In light of this accelerated shift towards digital, however, tech-based industries and professions are thriving; the nation’s tech industries have seen a 68% surge in jobs available at the UK’s top 100 start-ups and high-growth corporations since the start of the pandemic last year, with 3,298 advertised vacancies in February 2021 – up from 1,964 last April.
The sector’s success is encouraging entrepreneurial students to invest their time and efforts into establishing their own online enterprise, and Sunderland’s Digital Incubator is dedicated to helping both current students and graduates in this process.
“We aim to support those looking to go down the freelance, digital career route” – Louise Dixon, Digital Incubator, University of Sunderland
The initiative’s project manager Louise Dixon says the Digital Incubator is not just about connecting students with facilities – it’s also about inspiring a sense of community among those involved.
“We aim to support those looking to go down the freelance, digital career route,” said Dixon. “We want to get them thinking about a tech career at as early a stage as possible.”
The Digital Incubator is housed at Sunderland’s St Peter’s campus, within the David Goldman building. Those looking to join the programme are invited for an initial discussion, prior to being asked to pitch for membership through a presentation.
Recognising the increasing importance of tech and digital professions, the university is striving to equip students with the skills needed to succeed in such fields as efficiently as possible. The institution’s existing ERDF-funded Enterprise Place is already successfully placing students in the jobs market.
Click here to learn more about the Digital Incubator.