Cornwall’s fast-growing tech sector has once again been singled out for its “impressive growth” in this year’s Tech Nation report, the annual survey of the UK’s tech economy.
The report, published today (17 May), says Cornwall’s digital connectivity, quality of life and helpful tech community were key strengths and meant the sector’s impressive growth of the last few years “shows no sign of slowing down”.
The report identifies Truro and Redruth as tech hotspots for third year running with 2,368 people working in digital tech occupations. Digital tech businesses in this cluster have a turnover of £50 million – up by 32% since 2014 – and generate £93.4 million for the local economy in GVA (Gross Value Added).
Nationally, the UK tech sector is growing 2.6 time faster than the rest of the economy and the top three challenges are access to talent, access to funding and poor transport links.
The report says Cornwall’s strong sense of community is a great asset and a big draw for businesses from elsewhere in the UK. It cites the LEP’s £8.4 million investment in Goonhilly Earth Station announced in February as “big news” for the sector, creating the world’s first commercial deep-space communications station.
And it singles out sector group Software Cornwall for its work boosting the tech talent pipeline with its Mission to Mars programme and Code Clubs for youngsters interested in a career in tech. Also praised is its teacher training ‘Tecademy’ project to encourage the use of computers across the curriculum.
Continued EU Growth Programme investment in sector projects such as Aerospace Cornwall, Agritech Cornwall and the University of Plymouth’s EPIC e-health project are all mentioned as positive developments.
Paul Massey, LEP Board member and director of Redruth-based Bluefruit Software, said: “The Tech Nation report is an annual healthcheck for the UK’s tech industry and it shows that we are in very good health. Our superfast infrastructure, natural environment and growing tech community are all huge assets and it’s good to see the LEP’s investment in Goonhilly mentioned as something that we know will catalyse significant growth and create a real buzz.
“The digital and creative sectors are highlighted in the LEP’s 10 Opportunities investment prospectus as key areas for growth, and the Tech Nation report reinforces that.”
Software Cornwall director Belinda Waldock said: “Our local tech sector is becoming a strong player in Cornwall’s economic portfolio and with continued growth is set to be a key provider of well paid jobs. It’s the scale of economic growth that we need to cope with the changes and challenges ahead.
“The tech community is well known for thriving in times of uncertainty and change, turning challenges into opportunities, and this report suggests Cornwall is doing a great job of doing just that.”
Writing in this year’s tech nation report, Prime Minister Theresa May says: “For years, our tech sector has been concentrated in London and the South East. In line with the wider aspirations of the Industrial Strategy to promote economic growth and prosperity across the whole UK, I want to see our tech sector realise its huge potential to boost communities and economies across the entire nation.”
To celebrate Cornwall’s continued success as a growing tech sector, Software Cornwall, in collaboration with Goonhilly Earth Station, is hosting a Cornwall Tech Connect event on 31 May at Goonhilly.
The event, which is fully booked, has a host of speakers sharing stories and insights from across the sector. Tech Nation UK are attending with their Director of Marketing delivering the opening keynote for the afternoon.
Throughout May, Software Cornwall is encouraging its members and the wider community to join a collective ‘Tech Destination Cornwall’ campaign that will highlight the tech community locally during the Tech Nation national campaign.
The campaign kicked off with Cornwall featured on BBC Radio 4 as a top global destination for Digital Nomads. Everyone involved with Cornwall’s tech community is invited to post news directly to the website to share with the community during the campaign, and share news with the hashtag #technation and #techcornwall through social media.
The Cornwall Tech Nation event and campaign have been made possible through the collaboration of Software Cornwall and Goonhilly Earth Station, along with sponsorship support from the LEP, Aerospace Cornwall and the South West Satellite Applications Centre of Excellence, and the work of volunteers and members.