Exeter Event Sets the Tech South West Agenda for 2017

January 26, 2017

Public and private sector organisations from across the South West came together at Tech South West Connect in Exeter yesterday, to help shape Tech South West’s action plan and strategy for 2017.

Tech South West founding company, blur Group, hosted over 80 people at its Exeter Science Park HQ for a morning of keynote speeches and round table discussions.

Keynote speakers at the event were Philip Letts, Tech South West Chairman and blur Group CEO, Toby Parkins, Founding Director of Cornwall-based Headforwards, Tim Paulden, Governor at Exeter Maths School, and Nick Sturge, Director of the Engine Shed in Bristol and Institute of Directors regional chairman for the South West.

“The more we work together, the more we share, the more we collaborate - the more we will achieve.” - Nick Sturge, Engine Shed

Five Priorities

Attendees broke out into groups after the keynote speeches to discuss Tech South West’s five priorities for 2017:

  • ‘Joining the Dots’ - How we build a better-connected South West tech sector
  • ‘Simply the Best’ - How we showcase and celebrate our tech successes effectively
  • ‘Teach Tech’ - How we can promote the importance of teaching STEM subjects to aid tech sector growth in the South West
  • ‘Tech Transfer’ - How we support greater commercialisation of our regional research
  • ‘Tech Talent’ - How we attract and retain top tech talent.

Sized for Success

Tech South West chairman Philip Letts kicked off the event by highlighting how there are already more than 10,900 technology companies in the South West, employing over 126,000 people. It is the region’s fastest growing sector, worth £2.8bn in 2015 and expected to be worth £4.2bn in 2020.

Philip said: “With the region already at the forefront of key technology-dependent sectors, including climate science, marine tech, agri-tech and aeronautics, there is huge potential for our technology sector.

“We certainly need to get better at connecting across the region, showcasing what we do to help secure investment, the commercialisation of research, developing the necessary skills of young people and removing some of the barriers, particularly in terms of attracting and retaining talent.

“It is clear from what people were saying and the actions for Tech South West to progress in 2017, there is an incredible passion and enthusiasm to drive our tech sector forwards.”

A Collaborative Community

Nick Sturge, Institute of Directors South West Chairman and Director of Engine Shed Bristol, spoke to delegates at the event.

He said: “There’s genuine interest and a real sense of community and confidence across the region’s technology sector. Tech South West Connect reinforces that with me. There’s lots going on but we can get better at sharing, collaborating and growing the sector.”

Keynote speaker Toby Parkins, founding Director of Cornwall-based software company HeadForwards, said: “The Tech South West collaboration is well underway. The growth and strength of the tech industry in the South West continues and this event showed, without doubt, we have the opportunity for different companies and organisations to work together to create a UK standard of excellence in tech.”

2017 Action Plan & Report

A full report on Tech South West Connect and the agreed actions for 2017 that came out of the round table discussions is due to be published next month. The report will first be emailed to Tech South West members, before being made publicly available at a later date.

In addition, the report will also include the results of the Tech South West Survey.

Finally, we’d like to thank everyone - attendees, keynote speakers, contributors and sponsors - for contributing to the growing discussion around Tech South West.

Continue the conversation on Twitter using #TechSouthWest and @TechSWOfficial.

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