A major research project to analyse the scale of growth, impact and emerging opportunities across the South West of England’s tech sector has begun.

Tech South West has appointed strategy consultants and tech insight experts Whitecap Consulting to deliver a far-reaching project to analyse the scale of growth, impact and emerging opportunities across the South West of England’s tech sector.

Headline Partner Deloitte will work alongside Tech South West and Whitecap, including for the launch of the report in early spring 2022, with the University of Exeter, Natwest, Censornet and Astley Media confirmed as Supporting Partners.

Data and insight from across the sector will be gathered, combining national and regional sources including key economic information. At its heart will be analysis, case studies and recommendations for the South West on how to maximise opportunities and tackle some of the challenges facing the sector, including funding and talent concerns.

Dan Pritchard, co-founder of Tech South West, said: “This ground-breaking report will help us understand the scale of the tech sector in the South West, and the contribution it makes to the economy and society, from Environmental Tech to AI. Crucially, it will provide data to understand the challenges we face and that we need to address; be that infrastructure, talent and skills, funding or investment.

“We’re delighted to be working with Whitecap Consulting, who have a strong track record of insightful research in this area, and to have such high-calibre partners who will be providing additional support and expertise.”

David Tansley, vice chair and a consulting partner at Deloitte in the South West, said: “Technology continues to change at pace, but we must ensure that the growth and prosperity catalysed in this fast-moving sector is inclusive and creates opportunities for everyone in our society.

“Over recent years, we have seen how tech can be a force for good and key to helping ordinary people and businesses do extraordinary things.

“The South West has a thriving technology sector with emerging opportunities in high growth areas such as FinTech, LawTech and SpaceTech, but its potential is vast. We’re thrilled to be partnering on this research as it will not only help to discover, connect and learn from the regional technology ecosystem but also enable us to face future opportunities and challenges together.”

The report will focus on sector strengths, identify challenges and weaknesses to address, examine the funding and investment landscape, talent issues, key tech specialisms, prominent tech hubs across the region and future growth trends.

Chris Evans, Director of Innovation, Impact and Business at the University of Exeter, said: “The University of Exeter is pleased to sponsor this exciting research. As an institution we are committed to supporting our region in achieving a step-change in the provision of tech talent and skills. As well as growing our own offer in areas such as Data Science Degree Apprenticeships and postgraduate degrees, we are working with our partners across schools and further education to help ensure tech skills are available at all levels to facilitate the sustainable growth of the sector.”

Louis Spencer, Natwest Technology Lead, South-West, said: “NatWest are delighted to be partnering with Tech South West on this first-of-a-kind report for the region. We see and hear the fantastic level of activity, innovation and growth in tech firms across the region every day through our interactions with customers, communities and the wider Tech ecosystem. “This report will take a data-led approach to shine a light on the economic contribution to the region and provide a robust platform for us to build an inclusive regional strategy to support its continued growth and standing, on both a national and international stage.”

As the fastest growing sector in the South West, the tech sector generates over £2.5bn per year in the region and employs more than 75,000 people.

Ed Macnair, CEO of Censornet, said: “The South West has been a phenomenal hub of engineering talent for us for more than a decade. Having a presence in the region has enabled us to innovate, solve complex cyber problems and drive growth. The UK, like everywhere globally, faces a complex talent problem. It’s only with initiatives like this, that the UK can unlock the right talent to continue to drive cyber security innovation.”

Whitecap has led on a range of key research reports across the UK including regionally focused FinTech, LegalTech, accelerator and funding reports. Via its Bristol office, Whitecap has previously conducted analyses of the FinTech and LegalTech sectors in the Bristol & Bath region, and it is also involved in running FinTech West, which represents the FinTech community across the South West.

Richard Coates, managing director of Whitecap Consulting, said: “Whitecap is delighted to be working with Tech South West and the sponsors of this work to conduct an analysis of the fast growing tech sector in the South West. Our initial work has already highlighted the strength and breadth of the tech sector across the region, and we look forward to engaging with the tech community across the region over the coming months, and helping put the spotlight on the key developments and critical growth strategies in the South West in our report.”

With over 2500 members, Tech South West works with tech clusters and hubs across the region including TechSPARK, Software Cornwall, Digital Plymouth, Engine Shed Bristol, Plymouth and Exeter Science Parks, FutureSpace Bristol, Silicon South, Tech Swindon and Tech Exeter.

It also runs the Regional Tech Leadership Forum and the only regional accelerator programme, StartUp Studio, for early stage tech companies across the whole of the South West. Tech South West recently launched the first Regional Tech Funding Advisory Board and holds the third annual Tech South West Awards on November 25.

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