Category: Government

UKTCG’s response to the Queen’s Speech

The Queen’s Speech set out a series of Bills due before Parliament in support of Government’s efforts to underpin recovery from COVID-19 and drive forward the levelling-up agenda. 

This legislative programme accompanies policy direction set out in March’s ‘Build Back Better’ budget and precedes an expected Autumn Spending Review. 

The UK Tech Cluster Group notes Government’s commitment to a lifetime skills guarantee; enabling flexible access to high quality education and training throughout people’s lives; the fastest ever increase in public funding for research and development; and proposed legislation to deliver the Advanced Research & Invention Agency. 

Launching the UK Digital Strategy at our Annual Conference in June last year, Secretary of State Oliver Dowden underlined the critical importance of building a highly-skilled digital workforce across every region of the UK, so that people can shift into the digital or tech sectors or digitise their own businesses; driving growth in both the tech sector and traditional industries in order to adapt, survive and thrive in the recovery.

We wholeheartedly agree that Digital Skills and Collaborative Innovation are vital in harnessing the potential of businesses and communities across the nations and regions of the United Kingdom. 

Through our work in connecting and supporting businesses large and small and driving skills provision and innovation in our regional ecosystems, we understand the critical importance of local coordination to ensure Government’s policy objectives deliver a recovery that works for businesses, learners and communities at the very grassroots of UK tech. 

The group looks forward to continuing to work with the Secretary of State and his Officials to ensure we continue to drive Covid recovery and allow technology ecosystems to flourish UK-wide.

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Roundtable 6 – Technology adoption to drive productivity

In our sixth roundtable session as part of the national Recovery Roadmap program, the group discussed how we best support the UK public and higher education sectors to better understand how digital technology can enable increased productivity and be equipped with the trial solutions and knowledge to show the potential return on investment.

Now, we can easily have conversations with anybody at any point across the country, which is really, really good. Although technically we could do that before, there’s been a real culture change and I hope we can take the best things going forward as we reenter the workspace next year. 

Ethan Wroe, Policy Support Officer at Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Watch the roundtable discussion

In the UKTCG’s third roundtable event, a panel of experts explore how digital skills and capabilities will be essential in the new normal enabling the UK’s economic recovery.

Attendees

  1. Ben Shorrock, ​Managing Director TechSPARK, UKTCG Steering Board
  2. Robert Walker​, Strategic Project Manager, Sheffield City Council
  3. Jennifer Wells​, Knowledge Exchange Manager, University of Brighton
  4. Emma Woodcock​, Chief Information Officer, Yorkshire St John University
  5. Andrew Henley​, Co-I and Wales lead ESRC The Productivity Institute, Co-I ESRC Productivity Insights Network & Professor of Entrepreneurship and Economics at Cardiff University
  6. Andy Salmon​, Vice Principal, Bath Spa University
  7. James Bedford​, Digital Cluster Development Manager, Science & Technology Council
  8. Mark Lockett​, Sales Director, TechnologyOne
  9. Michael Veasey​, Economic Development Consultant, Essex County Council
  10. Kate de Vries​, Economic Development Officer, Norfolk County Council

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Roundtable 5 – COVID Learnings: UK Public Sector

In our fifth roundtable session as part of the national Recovery Roadmap program, the group discussed what their experience of the coronavirus outbreak can tell us about the future role, priorities and shape of public services. The session focussed on four key areas: the integration of services; inequalities in access and outcome; the relationship between local and national services; and the role of civil society—the private sector, charities, volunteers and community groups—during coronavirus.

One thing I’ve noticed is it’s much harder to produce serendipity in innovation. A lot of our projects start from bumping into someone on the way to the train station or similar. We’re lucky living and working in Oxford.  Without those accidental moments it’s become harder and we have to work on it much more. 

Llewelyn Morgan, Head of Innovation, Oxfordshire County Council

Watch the roundtable discussion

In the UKTCG’s third roundtable event, a panel of experts explore how digital skills and capabilities will be essential in the new normal enabling the UK’s economic recovery.

  1. Ben Shorrock, UK Tech Cluster Group Director
  2. Ian Owen, General Manager Public Sector, TechnologyOne 
  3. Claire Main, Economic Development Officer, Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council
  4. Rachel Burdis, Inward Investment Manager, Invest North East England 
  5. Sarah Talbot, Head of Innovation, Swindon Borough Council 
  6. David Henderson, Head of Transformation, Hargreaves Lansdown 
  7. Llewelyn Morgan, Head of Innovation, Oxfordshire County Council 
  8. Declan Murphy, Economic Development Projects Officer, Bristol City Council 
  9.  Ethan Wroe, Policy Support Officer at Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

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Roundtable 3 – Digital Technology as an Enabler

Digital skills and capabilities will be essential in the new normal enabling the UK’s economic recovery. However, digital skills are broad, wide ranging and dispersed. COVID-19 gives an opportunity to reflect and change outmoded structures and ensure the workforce has the chance to have the right skills at the right time through a robust data-driven approach.

Something that we’re touching on is also the impact of having a diverse group with different backgrounds and different experiences. Having a diverse group leads to the most fruitful economy, collaborations and creativity. It brings new ideas to the table. And it’s something that I think we really need to be striving towards as we respond to this crisis.

Georgina Phillipson, Enterprise Support Coordinator, Oxford Brookes University

Watch the roundtable discussion

In the UKTCG’s third roundtable event, a panel of experts explore how digital skills and capabilities will be essential in the new normal enabling the UK’s economic recovery.

Panel speakers

  1. Ben Shorrock, MD TechSPARK, Director UK Tech Cluster Group
  2. Katie Gallagher, Managing Director, Manchester Digital, UKTCG Steering Board
  3. Johnathan Williamson, Director, TechnologyOne
  4. Andy Salmon, PVC, Bath Spa University
  5. Diane Milne, Senior Funding Officer, Dundee City Council
  6. Alastair Irons, Dean of Computing, University of Sunderland
  7. Ben Atha, CEO, The Developer Academy
  8. Michelle Gordon, Corporate Manager, Economy & Business, Babergh & Mid Suffolk District Councils
  9. Mick Westman, Founder at Digital Innovators Ltd & Vice President at the Solihull Chamber of Commerce
  10. Georgina Phillipson, Enterprise Support Coordinator, Oxford Brookes University
  11. Rob Passmore, North Devon UNESCO Biosphere Reserve

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Roundtable 2 – Building New Forms of Collaboration

Connecting start ups and large organisations is nothing new – for many years it has been recognised as something that can be a great way to drive diverse new ideas, projects and ways of thinking. But what are the key facets that make for successful collaboration?

The value of collaboration

Connecting start ups and large organisations is nothing new – for many years it has been recognised as something that can be a great way to drive diverse new ideas, projects and ways of thinking. But what are the key facets that make for successful collaboration?

One size doesn’t fit all

Building successful relationships with organisations is  not something that can be established through the same approach every time. Different organisations and start ups have varied needs, cultures and ways of working, which means successful collaboration requires a level of tailoring to achieve the best results.

Each larger organisation has its own culture, needs, and ways of doing things. And, of course, the SME community, is not a generic community. So, inevitably, you have to bespoke relationships if you want to see something that works.

Nick Sturge, MBE, Adviser – Cyber Central, Cheltenham Borough Council

Watch the roundtable discussion

In the UKTCG’s second roundtable event, speakers with experience in everything from corporate transformation, to world- class accelerators and bleeding-edge start ups discuss practical ways to build systems that allow companies to work together and how COVID-19 has changed their approach.

Panel speakers

  1. Ben Shorrock, Managing Director TechSPARK, UKTCG Steering Board
  2. Mark John, Founder, TramShed Tech, UKTCG Steering Board
  3. Nick Gibson, Industry Director – Education, TechnologyOne
  4. David Henderson, Head of Transformation, Hargreaves Lansdown
  5. Nick Sturge, Adviser – Cyber Central, Cheltenham Borough Council
  6. Penny Day, Innovation Specialist, Sunderland Software City
  7. Matt Cooling, Head of Innovation, Manchester Science Park

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Roundtable 1 – Building Technology Test Beds Across the UK

Testbeds have traditionally been important in driving innovation and allow for risk mitigation in developing new technologies and products. They also serve as a useful connector between corporate, public sector, university and innovative SME organisations.

However, there have been challenges with testbeds in the past. They can suffer from a lack of clear objectives, or unstable funding which can result in ‘Orphaned’ testbeds. To add value they are going to have to develop and adapt to support the tech and digital sector in facing the unique challenges presented by Brexit and COVID-19.

We want to see new, federated testbeds connected through industry verticals within a common infrastructure.

Paul Wilson, Founder, UK5G

Watch the roundtable discussion

In the UKTCG’s first roundtable event, a panel of experts explore how giving tech businesses more opportunities to test, trial and showcase their ideas will provide a gateway to help the public and higher education sector innovate quicker.

Panel speakers

  1. Ben Shorrock, MD TechSPARK, Director UK Tech Cluster Group
  2. David Dunn, CEO Sunderland Software City, Chair UK Tech Cluster Group
  3. Vish Mathur, Global Head of Engagement, Telecoms Infra Project
  4. Nick Sturge MBE, Adviser to Cyber Central, Cheltenham Borough Council
  5. Paul Willson, Co- Founder, UK5G
  6. Martin Reid, CEO, Engine Shed
  7. Anwen Robinson, TechnologyOne

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Accelerating Regional Recovery

As a collective group of individual organisations, the UK Tech Cluster Group (UKTCG) assembled over a year ago to connect, share and grow the communities we serve. While we regularly meet to discuss regional technology issues and share opportunities, the impact of COVID-19 on the UK tech sector has seen us work even more closely together. As the established voice of grassroots tech, we are prioritising efforts to accelerate the rate of regional recovery following widespread economic disruption caused by the pandemic.  

An independent voice 

The UKTCG represents geographical clusters of technology and digital businesses across the UK. Independent from government and self-financing, our member organisations include the entire spectrum of businesses that make up the UK’s tech economy – not just the big players. Despite the prominence of a few large corporations and so called “unicorns”, the UK’s tech economy is in fact largely skewed towards small businesses. This ecosystem naturally revolves around local clusters, usually with one or more universities involved as well. These regional ecosystems need to be understood and nurtured at a regional level.  

UKTCG’s member organisations are focused on the entirety of their local tech ecosystems, not just start-ups, scale-ups or specific vertical sectors. We support regional economic growth in both the tech sector and the wider economy. 

The organisations that make up the UKTCG are all firmly rooted in their communities and are uniquely placed to provide in-depth, granular local and regional intelligence in a way that is impossible (or very time consuming and expensive) to do at a national level. 

The UKTCG member organisations are all run by people who have years of experience of working within their local tech economy – we understand the economic and political landscape of our regions and in turn we are extremely well connected and are trusted as intermediaries. 

The group has grown out of a natural tendency of the existing regional cluster organisations to collaborate and share information and resources. Together, our robust and trusted network has an extensive reach across the UK which we believe can be harnessed to accelerate ecosystem recovery following the disruption caused by COVID-19.  

Regional intelligence and regional response 

Since early March the group has been gathering intelligence in our respective regions to understand how both companies and our regional ecosystems have been affected by COVID-19. As well as consulting with government on how to strategically combat sector pain points at large, we have been working at a grassroots level day in, day out to provide companies with immediate relief to individual problems.  

We are uniquely placed to best solve the challenges the sector faces at regional level, given our unrivalled local knowledge, current business support activity and connections across regional ecosystems.  

We therefore hope we can work with the government as a key delivery partner to quickly bring relief to our UK regions. Only by prioritising regional recovery will we see our much-coveted tech sector bounce back at large from the pandemic.  

The UK Tech Cluster Group is in a unique position to provide the voice of the industry at a truly national level and to advise the Government on providing the right support, at the right time to our industry to both survive and thrive moving forward.  

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How has your tech business been impacted by events in 2020?

Share your insights in the national Digital Skills Audit

The UK Tech Cluster Group is undertaking a national Digital Skills Audit in partnership with the Institute of Coding to understand the effect of the pandemic on the technology sector and employment across the regions of the UK. We are looking for businesses and employees to fill in the survey and share their insights and views. If you are an employer or work in a technology business, please help us to understand what is happening on the ground in your business and how we can support you over the next few years.

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UKTCG urges Government to prioritise grassroots expectations ahead of Digital Strategy

The government has been urged to prioritise the establishment of new product-led tech start-ups across the country ahead of its upcoming Digital Strategy, in a new report released by the UK Tech Cluster Group (UKTCG) today. 

The UKTCG, a self-assembled group of individuals and organisations which support geographical clusters of technology and digital businesses across the UK, has outlined seven key recommendations to unlock the potential of the UK’s tech sector following the economic impact of Covid-19.

Delivering a Recovery Roadmap Summit on June 23rd, the Group brought together hundreds of tech stakeholders, policymakers, investors and entrepreneurs in a one day virtual event to explore and develop ideas on how to both help the tech sector grow as part of the UK’s economic recovery and to better understand how digital can accelerate the recovery of other sectors too. 

The first of its kind event, conducted via a series of interactive workshops, highlighted the disproportionate impact that Covid-19 has had on the UK’s regions and nations. Sessions shared knowledge and best practice, considering ways in which towns and cities can come together to recover and reboot, while exploring how the tech sector can be harnessed to support local communities.  

Today’s report captures the learnings from the day and presents seven policy recommendations to meet the expectations of grassroots communities from across the UK.

Recommendations include a desire to build more early stage programmes to help establish a greater number of product-led tech start-ups across the UK, driving a new flow of innovation into current successful scaleup programmes.

Calls were also made for a specialist programme to help public sector bodies to better utilise digital solutions, while making clear that any schemes must consider the local nuances of the nations and regions to ensure successful engagement and impact across the UK.

The group also advocates greater emphasis on providing “test beds” to facilitate close-to-market digital innovation and stresses any new forms of collaboration between SMEs and corporates at a local level must be encouraged to drive regional and national R&D investment. 

Moreover, the Group asserts technology buyers from traditional sectors need more support with their digital adoption and transformation journeys and that there is a pressing need for programmes to enable tech careers as an option for people who have lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19, regardless of their previous profession, skill level, or age.

David Dunn, UKTCG Chair, said: “The UKTCG exists to connect, share and grow the communities it serves. Through understanding ecosystem needs at grassroots level, we have unrivalled, real time access to tech companies and communities.

“The Recovery Roadmap’s success in bringing together over 400 policy makers, from across the United Kingdom, to share best practice and learn how to practically support our communities, could and should be the start of a movement to uplift tech and digital communities across the country.

“The tech and digital industry’s importance to our economy goes unchallenged. We need to ensure people understand it, can access its knowledge and use it to drive their businesses, whether they’re startups or global giants.

“For us to succeed there is an understanding that the whole of the UK must be supported and help needs to be offered, and available wherever required, on the ground rather than directed centrally.”

Mr Dunn added: “It is our firm belief that the seven key recommendations for policy that can make a sea change in the way tech can enable the UK to the forefront of the global economy. 

“Each recommendation has a comprehensive plan behind it which we would be eager to develop further with key public policy makers for the good of our economy, our country and our local communities. The time is now to act on behalf of the grassroots.”

Anwen Robinson, Operating Officer at TechnologyOne said “Tech and digital hubs around the UK can, and must, play a central role in helping us come out of this crisis stronger. Given the right policy framework with local empowerment and underpinned by enabling technology, our industry can thrive, greatly benefitting the communities, local authorities and educational institutions in cities, towns and villages where we operate.

We fully support UKTCG’s call for a specialist programme to help public sector bodies better utilise digital solutions. By helping senior public sector managers think more digitally, Central and Local Government will become more efficient and much better equipped to support the communities they serve.

Likewise, for the education sector, more courses, training and student services must rapidly move online, to ensure there’s social mobility and opportunity wherever you are in the UK or indeed globally.”

The Recovery Roadmap Report, in association with TechnologyOne, is available for public viewing here

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The Recovery Roadmap Report

The Recovery Roadmap explores the disproportionate impact on the nations & regions in the face of COVID-19 and what we can do together to recover and reboot.

The report considers the key challenges facing  tech ecosystems and how, in turn, they can enable resilience in more traditional sectors. We consider a series of key policy interventions which will support us all to build back better.

To download the full report, please submit your details below

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