Partnering & Networking: Connecting Smart Place ecosystem

At the risk of repeating the obvious, the world is facing a crisis that is unprecedented in modern times.

7 billion people across planet subject to direct restriction in one form of another. Projections are made of a reduction in population of some 700M worldwide. The virus has not respected borders, national or regional governments. It has no time for digital transformation or other plans we mere humans had pre 2020. Whatever the debate before, Industry 4.0 has been kickstarted in the most brutal fashion.

So how do we recover and build a better world? Can digital and tech offer more?

I recently attended a webinar to be told that there the UK has created 77 unicorns, with £10BN inward investment in 2019 alone. This is great news for our tech industry. It shows Global Britain remains relevant to the world and is firmly recognised as a global centre of innovation. Our Local Enterprise Partnerships are determined to build a better, smarter place.

Tech does not destroy jobs. The emergency has shown us that digital infrastructure is as important as roads. Lifelong skills training is vital to power the jobs that we need to create.

In Swindon and Wiltshire, the LEP is delivering a new Cyber Centre, funding a technology centre of excellence in the circular economy and providing much needed “levelling up” digital skills training to our local workforce.

But what of the wider economy?   In the UK, 99% of our businesses are SMEs, some 5.6M entrepreneurs, looking after 60% of the jobs in our economy and 52% of UK GDP. In ICT – I appreciate that tech is much more than just ICT – 370,000 businesses provide 5% of our jobs and 7% of our GDP.

So, we in tech are well placed to get a huge number of aspiring entrepreneurs into a position where they create jobs. Create opportunities for providing training in skills and power our next generation. We in tech are ready to provide the platforms, the tech, the very engine of the next phase of our nation’s history. We should not squander the opportunity.

We are now in the early days of recovery. But what should that look like. We have all had a taste of green air, of traffic free towns and villages. We have experienced working flexible hours, work life balance, not spending hours commuting – of sitting and thinking about what is important. And net neutral by 2050 is very important.

Yesterday, techUK bought innovative SMEs and established important large businesses together to talk business. Yesterday we heard about some of the creativity so positively enshrined in our nation’s consciousness. Businesses out there, looking for their next big project. So, let’s get networking more than ever, the future depends on us!


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