The UK government has been urged to prioritise the establishment of new product-led tech start-ups across the country. This is the key suggestion in a new report released by the UK Tech Cluster Group (UKTCG). The report was published ahead of the government’s upcoming digital strategy.
The UKTCG, a self-assembled group of individuals and organisations, supports geographical clusters of technology and digital businesses across the UK. The organisation outlined seven key recommendations to unlock the potential of UK’s tech sector following the economic impact of Covid-19.
Recovery Roadmap Summit
Delivering a Recovery Roadmap Summit on June 23rd, the Group brought together hundreds of tech stakeholders, policymakers, investors and entrepreneurs. The event explored ideas on how to both help the tech sector grow as part of the UK’s economic recovery. It also sought to better understand how digital can accelerate the recovery of other sectors too.
The first of its kind event was conducted via a series of interactive workshops. The event 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. The event explored how the tech sector can be harnessed to support local communities.
The 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. The group suggest this will drive a new flow of innovation into current successful scaleup programmes.
Utilising digital solutions
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. The group suggests 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. UKTCG says there is a pressing need for programmes to support tech careers for people who have lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19.
Digital strategy: Connect, share and grow
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 was successful in bringing together over 400 policy makers, from across the UK. To share best practice and learn how to practically support our communities. This 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 the 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.
Dunn added, “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.”
View from a Tech company
Anwen Robinson, UK Operating Officer, TechnologyOne, said, “UK Tech and digital hubs can 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. This will 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. They will also become much better equipped to support the communities they serve,” Robinson added. “In the education sector, more courses, training and student services must rapidly move online. This will ensure there’s social mobility and opportunity wherever you are in the UK or indeed globally.‘
Enterprise Times: What this means for business
In the wake of the COVID-19, the UK government delivered a series of unprecedented schemes to restrict the damage to the economy. Analysts have generally welcomed these policies. However, they are all broadbrush initiatives, and – to continue an analogy – miss the detail and precision of a finer brush. Now is the time for focused support which truly understands and overcomes local problems which, when successfully delivered across the country, will provide a solution for true levelling-up. Understanding what this laser-guided support might look like was the rationale for the “Roadmap to Recovery” summit. This is a substantial digital strategy report. Local authorities and central government should support and enact some of the recommendations.