Posts Tagged ‘Hot Source’

Tech Nation Demonstrates Strength of Norwich Tech Cluster

February 5, 2015  |  Digital innovation, Innovation  |  Comments Off on Tech Nation Demonstrates Strength of Norwich Tech Cluster

The Tech Nation report came out today (5th February 2015), published by Tech City UK.  A very exciting day for Norwich as we got a double page spread in the report (pp54-55).  This has been the result of a sustained campaign to raise the profile and reputation of the Norwich tech sector.

SyncNorwich has been key in this campaign, by hosting Mike Butcher of TechCrunch in November 2013, which showcased some great Norwich tech companies to him and the 300 attendees who attended that event.  Then in 2014, SyncNorwich organised Sync The City and invited Emma Swift of the Tech City UK Cluster Alliance to visit.

Then, when Tech City UK announced their Tech Nation survey, SyncNorwich, Norfolk Developers and Hot Source got behind the survey and encouraged their members to complete it.  Norwich has a big enough tech sector and registered enough responses to be included in the report.

Defining the sector clearly wasn’t straightforward, but the report does describe the methodology they used, so that the data in this report can be compared with other surveys.

technation

Until recently, much of the attention has focused on London as the centre of digital innovation in the UK, and indeed Tech City UK were initially set up in 2010 to support the London tech sector.  This survey and report highlights that there is a lot of activity outside of London (74% of digital businesses and currently 62% of advertised jobs are not in London).   These businesses however need proper support and attention from policy makers and investors.

The report identifies the top 3 sectors by cluster.  Software Development is a key sector for Norwich, with 35% of its companies in this sector.  Twelve of the other UK clusters have this sector in their top 3 and almost 25% of companies identified their sector as Software Development.  Advertising and Marketing is another key sector for Norwich, shared with 5 other clusters and is the second largest sector in the UK with 11% of companies.  Telecommunications and Networking is a defining sector for Norwich, with only Sheffield sharing it as one of their top 3 clusters and with just 4% of the companies identifying their company as belonging to this sector.  The key cluster capabilities are: content and media production, machine to machine communications and network infrastructure and protocols.

The Tech Nation survey found that, in the UK, 50% of digital businesses have been formed since 2008.  Many have been formed in the last 2 years across 2013 and 2014.  Norwich has given birth to around 40 digital businesses in this two year period, which represents approximately 13% of the total companies within the cluster, against a UK average of 15%.

Norwich has 14,521 digital jobs, with a 21% growth of digital companies.  Digital businesses are key for employment opportunities across the UK.  The study found that although all clusters experienced digital sector employment growth – in Norfolk, digital job growth outpaced overall regional growth by the highest margin.

82% of Norwich companies identified access to social networks as a key benefit of the cluster.  This is above the national average of 77% and is testament to the hard work put in by the various communities such as SyncNorwich, Hot Source and Norfolk Developers to organise regular meetups and larger annual events, such as Sync The City and NorDevCon.

The other key benefits of the Norwich cluster fall below the national average: access to the right talent for growth is mentioned by 32% of companies (the national average is 54%); access to property is identified by 32% (the national average is 40%); access to private finance scores 24% (the national average is 35%) and access to public finance (grants etc) is identified by 15% (the national average is 33%).

This shows that although there are benefits within the Norwich cluster, there is still some work to do to develop and attract talent, provide enough affordable office space (although White Space and New Patrick’s Yard are a good step in the right direction) and help companies to access funding.  Not surprisingly, and similar to many other of the UK clusters in the Tech Nation report, a lack of fast and accessible broadband and a weak transport infrastructure are cited as barriers to growth.

Norwich has a relatively young tech cluster and has come a long way in a short space of time.  Support and recognition from Tech City UK, policymakers and the local community will help us to build on this and to continue to grow and develop as a key cluster within the UK’s digital ecosystem.