Blog: Building a Smarter Tees Valley

Business & Invest | Published on: 3rd July 2024

A digitally connected region isn’t just one of our ambitions for the Tees Valley economy – it’s fundamental to achieving all of them.

That’s why a Tees Valley Digital Strategy is at the centre of our plans to address the region’s digital priorities, ensuring our businesses have the digital infrastructure they need to thrive and innovate while ensuring that no residents are left behind.

Its ambitious target states:

“Enabling the Tees Valley to become the UK’s first truly Smart Region by 2032. Our economy will be underpinned by world leading digital infrastructure and innovative technologies that enable access and opportunity for all residents and businesses.”

A Tees Valley Smart Region would build upon our expertise and capabilities in the digital sector to make active use of the Internet of Things (IoT) and open data to optimise the flow of energy, people and data. IoT solutions may also involve cloud services and artificial intelligence (AI).

Our Strategy is Based on Three Key Foundations:

  • Infrastructure – ensuring high-speed connectivity for all businesses and homes across the region.
  • Innovation – establishing Tees Valley as a global centre of digital innovation, research and practice.
  • Inclusion – ensuring all communities are digitally connected, with the digital skills to access education, jobs, health, social care and other public services, wherever they live.

We’re already making waves in the pioneering programmes of tomorrow. Our region has been named an Investment Zone, with £160million of Government cash being used to supercharge our digital and creative sector. Read more here.

The region is also leading a pilot to install multi-purpose Smart Columns at Teesside International Airport and from Hartlepool Railway Station to the town’s marina. These will provide smart lighting, a 5G network, CCTV, traffic counters, environmental monitors and smart screens for residents, visitors and airport passengers.

Also at Teesside Airport, to bolster the digitisation of international trade, a £3.5million Freeport investment has been made into creating a 5G Digital Test Bed. As part of the Teesside Freeport – zones which allow customs and tax incentives for businesses based there – a testing zone will see a private 5G network cover a stretch of the airport’s north side. This will be used to carry out a range of trade, goods movements and processes digitally. The plan is for the results of this pilot to feed into the wider UK Border Strategy.

Finally, digital transport projects are under way to boost resilience, reliability, sustainability and user experience on Tees Valley’s transport network. As part of a £978million of investments into improving the region’s transportation network, work will build on our existing Urban Traffic Management and Control (UTMC) system to develop an Automated Traffic Control System (ATCS). This will take the form of a traffic digital twin for the region’s traffic network to enable real-time simulation and analysis, leading to optimised traffic flow and reduced congestion throughout Tees Valley. Investment in a data platform and enhance digital services will also boost the region’s efficiency.

We can’t reach our goals without the support of our local businesses and their dedication to driving a digital tomorrow, while also nurturing our local workforce and pipeline talent and attracting new, innovative investors to our region.

To make it easier for companies to start up, scale up, invest and flourish, Tees Valley Business Board, alongside the Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority, are introducing a raft of support, more details of which will be coming soon.

Meaning no matter what you’re doing, your size or specialisms, there’s a wealth of opportunity for digital firms in right here, right now.

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