Yesterday (Tuesday 8 December) marked the launch of Tech South West: an initiative spearheaded by blur Group, which aims to showcase the South West of England as a global leader in technology and innovation.
Leaders from the South West’s private and public sectors joined forces at blur HQ on Exeter Science Park to discuss the future of the region’s technology sector, which is forecasted to grow from £2.8 billion today to £4.2 billion by 2020, according to Tech City UK’s 2015 report.
The wealth of opportunities available to the South West’s technology sector were top talking points during the event’s round table discussions. The views of Tech South West contributors, and themes that emerged as a result of the round table discussions, will be defined in a report by Tech South West, which is due to be published in January 2016.
Organisations that contributed to the conversation at Tech South West included Ion Technology, Koncept, Devon County Council, Flikk, Cosmic Digital Agency and the University of Exeter.
‘A truly world-leading technology centre’
The Tech South West initiative covers Bath, Bournemouth and Poole, Bristol, Cornwall, the Isles of Scilly, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire. The South West of England already boasts 10,900 technology companies according to Government figures and the region’s technology sector employs almost 127,000 people.
Stepping the conversation up a gear on the South West’s technology industry at Tech South West couldn’t have come at a better time. Chancellor George Osborne recently highlighted in the Government’s Autumn Statement how the South West will be at the core of the Government’s drive to ‘rebalance’ the UK’s economy.
As well as a new cyber innovation center in Gloucestershire (Cheltenham), the South West’s technology sector will be boosted by a new National College for Nuclear in Somerset, and the Met Office’s Hadley Centre for Climate Change in Exeter will receive an additional £13 million of annual investment from the Government.
Exeter Science Park will also welcome the Met Office’s new £100m ‘supercomputer’, which will be 13 times more powerful than the organisation’s current system, and will be one of the most powerful in the world, capable of executing 16,000 trillion calculations every second.
Additional major investments in the region’s transport and innovation sectors, as well as extended ‘Enterprise Zones’, were also announced by the Chancellor.
Speaking at Tech South West, blur Group CEO and Silicon Valley veteran Philip Letts said:
“We chose a science park in the South West that’s home to what will be one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world. This is a region with leading companies from Cheltenham, Swindon and Bath, to Bristol, Bournemouth and Plymouth. The challenge now for Tech South West and the thousands of companies that would reap the benefits, is to decide if and how we can become a truly world-leading technology centre.”
Paul Taylor, Head of Strategy & Operations at the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership, who also helped to launch Tech South West, said of the event:
“We’re delighted to support Tech South West, and in particular to see the region’s businesses coming together to lead on growing our reputation in technology, compete in a global economy and attract inward investment across many different sectors.
“I was really encouraged by the conversations. There is real belief that the region is a leading technology hub, but that we must do more to showcase the great work that’s happening, and to get us on the map.”
Join the Conversation
The Tech South West event was covered by regional press, including Exeter Express & Echo, The Exeter Daily and Western Morning News, which will undoubtedly help to spread the word across the region and generate contributions to the conversation.