Dave Tansley, UK vice chair at Deloitte, shares his insight on the inaugural South West Tech Analysis Report and why this report will galvanise the tech community in a journey of collaboration for growth.
Involvement as headline sponsor in the commissioning of this report was an obvious choice for Deloitte. Mapping out and understanding the existing ecosystem has never been as important as we seek to understand the investment and growth opportunities available and how, with its diverse set of businesses and capabilities, the South West can be a national and European leader in advanced-technology.
Deloitte is a leading authority in technology – we’re a global business with local roots which is why we chose to locate our tech hub – Deloitte TechWorks – right here in the South West. Through the TechWorks consultancy, based in Bristol, we bring our global expertise and capabilities to the region in the form of a unique collaboration space and a team of 60 tech, engineering and digital experts.
Innovation is an essential element of any business strategy – now more than ever, it’s do or die – and the report supports this by evidencing the exponential growth expected in the South West tech sector. The report’s headline states – ‘this sector is set to grow to almost £20 billion gross value added (GVA) a year by 2026, creating over 125,000 new jobs’.
Diverse and vibrant talent pool
The UK has a growing population and people are working longer. Nonetheless the main issue for the South West tech sector is creating, attracting and retaining talent. This region is a great place to live, people have a high standard of living. However, that comes at a cost – house prices are high, there is limited affordable housing, Bristol and Bath are now an easy commute to London and house prices increase deeper into the South West which is attractive to second home-owners. As a region we have to attract talent, ensure our graduates stay in the region and skill up home grown talent.
The 125,000 jobs are a great opportunity to attract a diverse pool of talent. Skills are key to levelling up and at Deloitte we have taken action to make our own talent pool inclusive – creating new pathways into the firm, attracting talent back to working with us and volunteering with local schools and colleges to equip students for the world of work.
Outside of our organisation we are investing in the next generation of talent. Against a backdrop of government commitment to levelling up society, digital skills remain at the heart of the industrial strategy and essential for the region’s economic growth. We’re currently working with the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) to deliver its MSc in Financial Technology and strengthen the depth of knowledge already available. Deloitte is also part of a consortium alongside universities across the region working with the Institute of Coding and iStart/Restart who are delivering new digital skills bootcamps to over 200 people across the South West. Championing diversity within technology, we are proud to be a sponsor of Code First Girls’ nanodegree – a 14-week coding course which provides employment opportunities for women. From the first year of sponsorship we have welcomed 30 women into our firm to work in technology.
Working together towards a common goal
Collaboration is key to the continued and growing success of the tech sector. Business, organisations, academia, agencies and government must work together. The report quite rightly suggests that the tech community should position the region as a tech hub which will attract investment, people, start-ups and existing tech businesses. This is the way to drive growth in the tech sector and galvanise the tech community.
A good example is then universities work together towards a common goal, joining forces on areas such as R&D, collaborating with businesses, addressing specific gaps in desirable skills and knowledge by fine-tuning the content of existing courses or creating new courses, great things can happen. Progress is made in not only technological advances, graduates are armed with the desired skills and capabilities in a range of tech disciplines or emerging technologies which make them attractive to businesses looking for new talent
Partnership within the community will be a powerful force and it’s important for the tech community to work together with financiers and government to attract investment from the UK and internationally.
The Government announced a £200 million regional fund for the South West, as part of its plan to overcome regional imbalances, specifically by providing funding for SMEs and micro businesses. This fund will follow on from the £40 million Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Investment Fund which provided debt and equity funding for small businesses across the region. This new funding is not just for the tech sector but for the region as a whole but it offers a combination of finance, and is expected to increase investment activity in the South West. Increased investment in the region will in turn increase funding for the tech sector creating significant opportunities for enhanced economic growth, innovation, research, and development.
Hotbed of innovation
The South West is a hotbed of innovation and Deloitte is excited to be part of such a collaborative ecosystem which brings together knowledge, specialist business programmes, incubators and accelerators to challenge how we solve problems going forward. Couple this with the expansive academic network and you have a catalyst for growth and prosperity for the region’s tech sector that’s inclusive and creates opportunities for everyone in our society.
This report is just the start of a region wide collaboration to make this growth a reality.
This article was first published on the Tech South West website on 7th March 2022 and can be viewed here.