In 2015, the Enterprise M3 Board identified the digital economy as a key priority for the LEP to focus on in order to support increased productivity and growth. The global technology and digital revolution is being driven by digital businesses, transforming how we work, rest and play. The UK is one of the world’s leading digital economies, with digital technology businesses contributing over £105 billion GVA in 2011.
The Enterprise M3 area, in particular the Sci:Tech corridor forms part of a wider South East digital cluster with Thames Valley Berkshire and London, which makes up over 40% of UK digital employment. Investment in and exploitation of digital technologies can enhance the competitiveness of Enterprise M3’s growth and niche sectors.
To better understand and identify how we can harness the digital revolution to benefit the Enterprise M3 area, we commissioned a study looking at the digital economy in Enterprise M3. The Digital Technologies Report, conducted by Regeneris and sponsored by Grant Thornton, was officially launched at the Enterprise M3 “Seizing the opportunities of the digital age” Annual Conference 2015.
The Enterprise M3 Digital Technologies Report identified the Enterprise M3 area as one of the most productive and fastest growing digital economies in the UK, and highlighted the fact that it is home to significant clusters of successful companies, including games, cyber security, aerospace and defence, automotive, digital media and telecommunications. However, the report also warned that there is no room for complacency and the Enterprise M3 digital economy needs ongoing support and investment from both the public and private sector in order to remain internationally competitive.
Heeding this advice, we are building the momentum in a collaborative effort to boost the profile and competitiveness of our digital sector. Taking this opportunity we have revised our policy focus to reflect the importance of our digital economy and support it by:
• Strengthening the digital community in Enterprise M3
• Optimising the conditions for digital business growth
• Promoting Enterprise M3 as a digital destination
Harnessing the energy from the conference and report, Enterprise M3 has secured dedicated resource to take forward our Digital Action Plan, through a secondment from the Civil Service Fast Stream. Pulling on a wide range of expertise from private and public sector partners we will test, develop and implement the Digital Action Plan. Our recent Local Growth Fund prospectus calling for future projects reflected the integration of digital across all our key themes. The European Funding (ESIF) Strategy refresh raised the profile and opportunity of digital across the funds, and identified future calls to support digital projects.