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Digital Economy in Enterprise M3 Area is Thriving

The Enterprise M3 area has one of the most productive and fastest growing digital economies in the UK but needs sustained input from both the public and private sector to remain internationally competitive. This is according to a new study published today (Wednesday, 11 November 2015) by Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership.

The key findings of the Enterprise M3 Digital Technologies Report will be shared at the Enterprise M3 Annual Conference today (11 November 2015) – Seizing the opportunities of the digital age – a sell-out event which is showcasing the area’s digital technology sector. The Enterprise M3 area is home to significant clusters of games, cyber security, aerospace and defence, automotive, digital media and telecommunications companies – all underpinned by the strength of its digital technologies sector

Key findings in the study
Regeneris, the study’s authors, were asked by Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership to give an accurate picture of to the size and impact of the digital economy within the Enterprise M3 area.

They found that:
- The UK is currently one of the world’s leading digital economies with digital technology businesses contributing over £105bn in GVA in 2011 (latest figures available) and accounting for 15% of all new companies formed in 2013/14.
- The ten largest digital clusters in the UK are either in the Enterprise M3 area or in close proximity to it.
- The Enterprise M3 economy ranks as one of the UK’s leading digital economies. It is home to 8,500 digital businesses, employing 50,270 individuals and accounting for 7.4% of all Enterprise M3 employment.
- Enterprise M3’s, and the UK’s, status as a leading digital economy is under constant threat from international competition. Both Germany and South Korea are already driving forward with significant 5G investment programmes which are in direct competition with the 5G Innovation Centre at the University of Surrey.
- Despite superfast broadband being broadly available in the Enterprise M3 area (95% of addresses in Surrey and 87% in Hampshire have access to superfast broadband), take-up of superfast broadband is still comparatively low across both Hampshire (22%) and Surrey (26%).
- It is estimated that there is an additional growth opportunity worth £4bn per year to the UK economy if the public and private sector take action to take full advantage of the digital opportunity.

Simon Hooton, Director at Regeneris, the study authors, commented: “This study illustrates the importance of the Enterprise M3 area to the growth and development of the South East and UK’s digital economy. The Enterprise M3 area has distinct specialisms in 5G technologies, cyber security and gaming on which the area can build and gain competiveness in global markets.”

Digital technologies – the key enabler for growth in the Enterprise M3 area
The study clearly identifies digital technologies as a key growth enabler which have huge scope to impact on other sectors in the economy. The competitiveness of key sectors in the Enterprise M3 area such as digital media, telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, aerospace and defence, business and professional services can be advanced through investment in and exploitation of digital technologies.

Niche sectors including satellite technologies, 5G mobile communications, cyber security, advanced materials & nano-technology, photonics, advanced aerospace, animal health and computer games technology have also been identified as key specialisms in the Enterprise M3 area and many of these are fully intertwined with the digital economy and key digital innovators in their own fields.

Geoff French, Chair of Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership, said:
“The Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership, along with our partners, want to make our area the primary Sci:Tech Corridor in the UK; the place in the UK where high-growth, knowledge-based businesses can flourish and where universities and other research facilities can conduct innovative, world-class research. It is clear from today’s report that our digital economy is critical to us achieving our ambition and that both the private and the public sector have key roles to play in ensuring that local businesses are aware of the benefits that these new technologies can bring and have the skills they need to use their digital infrastructure to the best of their advantage.”

Enterprise M3 will use this report to underpin its work with businesses in the digital technologies sector to support their own growth and the role they play in enabling innovation across the area’s key sectors. To take this forward the LEP will establish a digital technologies task group which will be led by a business person from the sector and also involve the area’s universities. Also through its European programme Enterprise M3 is currently establishing a digital technologies business innovation network that will help bring the ambitious companies in the sector closer to the research excellence in the area’s universities and provide tailored support to maximise their growth potential.

A word from our sponsors
The Enterprise M3 Digital Technologies Report was sponsored by leading professional services firm, Grant Thornton.

Norman Armstrong, Partner at Grant Thornton, commented: "We're delighted to have the opportunity to be involved with the production of this report and know it will stimulate debate and action. We are already in tune with the growth potential of this region, having highlighted the M3 as one of 9 dynamic growth corridors in the UK through our own research, 'Where Growth Happens'.

“Where Growth Happens’ identified the characteristics of high growth areas such as being well connected, with good access to services and amenities, a young and active workforce, a culture of enterprise and knowledge-driven businesses and unsurprisingly digital is a key driver. This new report digs much deeper and clearly highlights the opportunities the digital age presents for the M3 region.

“As a firm, Grant Thornton are proud to be playing our part in shaping a vibrant economy for businesses of today and in the future and we see our role is in helping dynamic organisations in the area to unlock and realise their growth potential. We are encountering a ‘once in a generation’ opportunity and businesses along the M3 corridor are in the right place at the right time, with such a concentration of digital clusters in or near the M3 corridor and more technology, talent and finance options available than ever before.

“With the right strategy in place, focused on growth and embracing the opportunities of the digital age, businesses in this region really can be leading the way.”

The Enterprise M3 Digital Technologies Report can be downloaded from the Enterprise M3 website, www.enterprisem3.org.uk.