Custom digital learning provider Sponge has announced the opening of a new office in Sheffield’s booming digital and tech market to support the company’s ongoing expansion and ambitious growth plans.

The new office, based at Sheffield Technology Parks in the heart of the city’s dynamic Cultural Industries Quarter, will be headed up by Sponge’s newly-appointed Head of Project Management, Sam Lydiat.

Sam brings more than 20 years’ of digital learning experience, gained primarily in project management, team leadership and client services roles, to the multiple award-winning Sponge.

In addition to heading up the Sheffield office, Sam will manage a highly skilled team of project managers across the company’s four other locations, including its Plymouth headquarters, and remote workers.

Cementing its presence in South Yorkshire, the company is currently recruiting for ten positions with potential to be based out of the Sheffield office, including learning experience directors, learning designers, developers, digital designers, project managers and sales account managers.

Commenting on the company’s decision to set up shop in the North, VP of Operations at Sponge, Alan Bourne, said: “Historically known as the ‘Steel City’, Sheffield has undergone major regeneration in recent years. When we were scoping locations, we were struck by the city’s innovative spirit and commitment to the rapidly developing creative and digital industries.

“With Sponge having been at the forefront of creative digital learning for 15 years, we see Sheffield as the ideal location for our first office in the north of England and our new space in the Cultural Industries Quarter is the perfect fit.”

“With a wealth of experience in both digital learning and project management, and a proven track record in managing multi-disciplinary teams, we’re very fortunate to have Sam on board and we’re excited to see him grow our presence in the region. In fact, quality and availability of skills were significant factors in our decision-making process when it came to location. With two world-class universities, Sheffield Hallam University and the University of Sheffield, on our door step, we believe our new base will enable us to continue to attract the brightest talent to meet our ambitious growth projections.”

Newly appointed Head of Project Management, Sam Lydiat, a proud Yorkshireman who studied Software Engineering at Sheffield Hallam University, added, “I’m delighted to join the Sponge team and very much look forward to establishing the company’s Sheffield base, as well as heading up a dedicated team of project managers across the UK and Ireland.

“I’ve already been blown away by Sponge’s creativity and leadership in learning innovation and foresee a very bright future for the company in Sheffield. It’s no coincidence that companies such as Boeing and McLaren have also chosen this vibrant and thriving city as their base.”

With the Northern Powerhouse initiative, the government has signaled that this part of the country is critical for the UK’s success in the digital era. According to Creative Sheffield, the creative and digital sectors have grown faster in the Sheffield City Region than anywhere else in the UK and a report by TechNation shows a 126% increase in digital start-ups in Sheffield between 2011 and 2016.

Founded in 2004, Sponge is one of the largest independently-owned custom digital learning providers in Europe. Last year, the company opened offices in Bristol and Dublin, as well as expanding its London office and growing headcount at its Plymouth headquarters. Within the next three years, Sponge is planning further expansion in the UK and Europe, as well as the USA, in its bid to be a leading player in the global market.