Yorkshire Forward helps connect the North

Yorkshire Forward has revealed details of the NorthernNet project which will revolutionise collaboration, innovation and interaction between the Digital and Creative industries across the North.

The Northern Way, which is part-funded by Yorkshire Forward, has invested £9.4m in linking physical premises across Yorkshire and Humber, the North East and North West via a high-speed telecommunication network of 100Mbs, which has the capacity to be upgraded to 1 Gbps. For the first time this will provide the north with a single high speed, secure, digital network that connects the region’s creative and digital industry, sector and customers.

NorthernNet Members will share information and work together quickly, efficiently and in innovative ways. NorthernNet aims to link content creators, content deliverers and content buyers or commissioners across the North of England more directly than ever before.

The network allows enormous files to be sent between the premises at incredible speeds and it is available to businesses as a direct connection and, for the first time ever, as pay-as-you-go via NorthernNet Media Access Bureaus, positioned across the three Northern regions.

A further £3.4m of Northern Way funding has been secured for the NorthernNet Innovation and Collaboration Programme, which aims to encourage and develop a robust, competitive supply chain which will elevate the North to be a leading force in the European media industry. The project is managed and coordinated by Northwest Vision & Media from their base at Salford’s creative industries hub MediaCityUK, working with delivery partners including Screen Yorkshire.

NorthernNet will also play a key role in the delivery of the BBC@North project which is designed to deliver greater creativity, collaboration and innovation for interactive services on CBBC and CBeebies to establish and strengthen the BBC’s connections with the industry across the North of England.

Jim Farmery, Assistant Director of Business at Yorkshire Forward, said: “NorthernNet is a vital resource for digital and creative businesses across Yorkshire and Humber because the speed at which it works will bridge the gap between collaborating companies.

“It will enable large files to be sent in the blink of an eye rather than taking several hours, so for separate businesses who collaborate on projects it will be like being in the same office.

“The benefits to businesses in the region are exceptional, not only in the short-term but in contributing towards the growth of the digital and creative industries in the future.”

When completed, NorthernNet will offer a £15m business revolution for digital, new media and creative specialists, access to world class technology infrastructure and 100mpbs and 14 Media Access Bureaus across the North – and more planned.

Stephen Timms, Minister for Digital Britain, said: “It’s essential for jobs and growth that businesses in the UK have access to high-speed networks, and I very much welcome this kind of cutting-edge venture.

“Access to this single, high-speed digital network will be a huge boost to creative and digital businesses across the north of England and Media Access Bureaus will ensure that as many as possible can profit from it.”

Rosie Winterton, Regional Minister for Yorkshire and Humber, said: “This innovative project will help put businesses across the North of England at the forefront of the digital revolution.

“Technologies of the future will be key to the success of our regional economies and I congratulate the Northern Way and Yorkshire Forward for targeting investment at this initiative.”

Media Access Bureaus are located within educational, creative and business venues across the North. There are fourteen currently ready to access, with more planned in 2010.

A key strategic aim of MediaCityUK is to spread the impact and benefit across the North of England, helping to grow and develop the Digital & Creative sector. Through the use of high speed next generation fibre-optics, NorthernNet will connect a network of Digital and Creative Industrial clusters across the North with MediaCityUK at its heart.

Mercedes Clark-Smith, Project Director at NorthernNet, said: “Connecting the North through technology creates the infrastructure of the NorthernNet Innovation and Collaboration project. Connecting businesses through relationship building to collaborate and build the supply chain needed for this region to compete successfully in a multi-platform world is imperative.