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Read the accompanying press releases for techUK's reports into 'Strengthening Local Digital Capital' across Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and the North East, North West, West Midlands, and Yorkshire and Humberside regions of England.

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UK-wide

techUK leads industry call to tackle digital capital gap

  • New report highlights the central role that digital technology must play in
    the UK’s recovery
  • techUK identifies nation and region-specific strategies to deliver a levelled-up economy
  • Increasing digital capabilities would boost economic output by £145 billion
    and create 2.7 million jobs

[LONDON] 7 December 2020 techUK, the UK’s leading technology membership organisation, today publishes an in-depth analysis that identifies the role digital technology must play to safeguard the UK’s economic recovery and future prosperity.

Building the Future We Need – a UK-wide report and a series of seven national and regional reports – highlights the urgent need for the UK to increase its digital capabilities to tackle the immediate challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to ensuring an innovation-led economic recovery.

The UK-wide report, Strengthening Local Digital Capital: For a Levelled-up Economy, lays out recommendations for digital technology to deliver a levelled-up economy. It highlights that policies must extend beyond the most obvious levers of broadband and digital skills to encompass issues such as digital adoption, data ecosystems, innovation funding, and investment and trade support – the set of capabilities identified by techUK that comprise an area’s Local Digital Capital.

Even partially addressing the digital capital gap by improving digital adoption and digital skills among SMEs would boost the UK’s economic output by as much as £145 billion, creating 2.7 million new jobs, and increase combined revenues among SMEs by £325 billion, according to Sage. Fully closing the gap could provide even further benefits.

 

Local Digital Capital

Much like the concept of human capital, each component of Local Digital Capital enables individuals, companies, and the public sector to interact and work more effectively – producing something of economic value. The strength of each of these inputs impacts the strength of the local ecosystem.

The following eight components were identified by techUK's research as the essential inputs necessary for an area to benefit from digital innovation:

  • Effective collaboration and coordination – across the public and private sectors
  • Digital skills for all – skillsets that encompass everything from basic computer and internet literacy to cutting-edge knowledge about AI and quantum computing
  • Digital adoption – the uptake of digital tech by firms of all sizes leads to gains in efficiency and productivity and allows for more innovation
  • Data ecosystems that unlock the economic and societal power of data securely and effectively, enabling collaboration to respond and openly innovate to solve common challenges
  • Digital infrastructure that provides high-quality, high-speed and resilient internet connections – essential for participating and thriving in our digitising economy and society
  • Sustained access to finance and investment for firms
  • Support for research and innovation to sustain growth and productivity increases
  • Increasing uptake of digital platforms and electronic processes to make it easier for smaller firms to export to new markets

The report found that individual efforts to strengthen the eight components of Local Digital Capital will only deliver incremental gains – significant transformation across the UK nations and regions requires implementation in their entirety given their mutual reinforcing nature.

 

Policy recommendations

The report lays out recommendations to tackle the long-standing, structural problem of the UK’s Local Digital Capital gap. The recommendations are aimed at governments in Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, and Whitehall, as well as business groups and public sector organisations across our nations and regions:

  1.  Improve Collaboration and Coordination
    • techUK will work with partners to create a framework to understand and audit the depth of Local Digital Capital in each area.
    • Fund small teams to facilitate open collaboration and coordination across all organisations involved in building Local Digital Capital.
    • Establish a Chief Digital Officer forum for nations and regions to support national collaboration.
       
  2. Build 21st Century Skills for an Inclusive Workforce
    • Review the Apprenticeship Levy to expand its role into a broader skills and training levy.
    • Support the creation of short modular digital skills courses accredited by employers to open accessible and affordable pathways for people looking to retrain for digital roles.
    • Launch a commission on jobs and automation to understand the implications of automation for the UK’s nations and regions.
       
  3. Drive Digital Adoption
    • Deliver digital adoption grants for SMEs.
    • Create a Chief Technology Officer (CTO) credit.
       
  4. Strengthen Data Ecosystems
    • Government should undertake an analysis of regional data ecosystems to identify how they can be strengthened through the National Data Strategy.
    • Continue support for the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) Local Digital Collaboration Unit and Local Digital Fund.
       
  5. Deliver Digital Infrastructure
    • Keep to the Government’s manifesto commitment of universal gigabit connectivity by 2025 to ensure that businesses and families can take advantage of the technologies this enables.
    • For both fixed Gigabit broadband and 5G, bring forward full package of barrier busting measures.
    • Undertake a competitiveness study into the UK data centre market to preserve and grow our world leading status as an international hub for the data economy.
       
  6. Strengthen Finance and Investment
    • Develop a UK funding strategy with an explicit aim to support growth outside London and the South East.
    • Map and create a one-stop shop of information for UK start-ups and firms seeking investment.
    • Incentivise investors to discover opportunities across the UK.
       
  7. Harness Research and Innovation
    • Better align research and development (R&D) strategies with economic growth objectives.
    • Further the focus on place by investing in innovation infrastructure across the country.
    • Identify technology clusters and develop investment partnerships to build centres of excellence and lead in strategic technologies.  
       
  8. Secure Trade Support
    • Central Government should seek to ensure that all future free trade agreements contain SME chapters.
    • Central Government should target support to regions and nations most likely to need extra support to adapt to new trading conditions.
    • Devolved Governments, Regional Mayors and local authorities should strengthen the role of export advocates and export champions.

 

Julian David, CEO, techUK said: “How can we use digital technology not just to get back to where we were, but to build the future we need? A future that is inclusive and works better for all people, society, the economy, and the planet. That is the question that techUK has been asking over the last six months.

“The pandemic has taken a tremendous toll on people, businesses and public services. But it has also demonstrated the way in which technology has been put to work helping people adapt and reinvent. At the same time, the unique challenges presented by COVID-19 has only reiterated the need to address the structural inequalities that shape prosperity across the UK’s regions and nations.

“Closing the Local Digital Capital gap would transform the UK, boosting economic output by as much as £145 billion and creating 2.7 million new jobs in the process.

“This report sets out how digital technology can contribute to a more levelled-up economy – by creating new jobs, broadening the flow of investment, and by deploying the enabling tools for the rest of the economy to thrive and to deliver public services efficiently.”

Jacqueline de Rojas, President, techUK said: “The UK is already one of the world’s leading digital economies, but the benefits have too often been concentrated in London and the South East of England.

“If we are to build a digital economy that works for everybody, the benefits of digital innovation and growth must be more widely and fairly distributed across the country. This will not happen by accident and concerted action is needed especially in a world where cities, regions and nations around the world are competing for digital leadership.

“We have seen how technology adoption has exponentially increased as we adapt to the impact of COVID-19. It demonstrates how much can been achieved if we work together. We must now apply that same sense of purpose in preparing us all for what comes next.”

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: It is vitally important that we use the Covid-19 crisis as an opportunity for transformation and to build back better. We need to start thinking of digital connectivity as a fundamental human right, and when we come out of this pandemic, we must not entrench the inequalities that have been exposed by it, but instead commit to levelling up, and invest in closing the digital gaps we see in our regions across the country.”

Richard Checkley, Defence Information Director at BAE Systems, said: “Cutting-edge digital technology is fundamental to the role that our industries play in providing critical capabilities for the nation. As a company that employs more than 30,000 people across the UK, we are hugely committed to ensuring that we invest in our people and the skills and technologies they need to fulfil their roles today, and in the future. 

“We extend that commitment to our communities and work closely with our suppliers and partners to drive a breadth and depth of digital capability across the UK. This report is extremely valuable in focusing those efforts and helping drive digital upskilling across the UK. We welcome the report and look forward to working with UK Government to address its findings.”

Professor Kerensa Jennings, BT’s Digital Impact Director, said: “There has never been a more important time to improve access to technology across all parts of the UK.

“To help boost the economy and create new jobs, we need to find ways to unleash local talent and potential. As techUK’s report shows, digital technologies can help turbo-charge this change. Collaboration is at the heart of today’s recommendations, and at BT, we believe we will make more impact if we work together.”

Wayne Story, Civica CEO, said: “This year has proven how it’s possible to move rapidly in the adoption of digital services. This digital innovation is imperative in order to rebuild and rebalance across the UK, and to deliver the change needed to respond to rising social and economic pressures and to improve lives.

“It’s vital that we invest both in digital skills development and in ensuring digital inclusion for all, including the older generation who are proven to appreciate and enjoy using online services.”

Paul Struthers, Managing Director UK & Ireland, Sage said “COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of embedding strong digital capital in every part of the UK economy. The ability of the UK’s nations and regions to create new jobs, increase productivity and remain competitive on a global basis hinges on the extent to which businesses and communities can harness technology. 

"Whilst we can be proud of our world-leading tech sector, too few of these benefits have reached businesses and communities across the UK. This report, led by techUK, highlights the potential of ‘Local Digital Capital’.  A digitally driven economy will help the Government to achieve their ‘levelling up’ agenda for the whole United Kingdom.  We urge national and local Governments to take comprehensive action to boost digital adoption across the country, so all nations and regions can build back stronger from the impacts of a global pandemic." 

The Building the Future We Need report series and virtual Digital Dialogues were held with the support of techUK members and campaign sponsors, Deloitte, BT, Microsoft, Sage, Cisco, BAE Systems, and Civica.

North East

techUK leads industry proposal to tackle Digital Capital gap in the North-East

  • New report highlights the ways that Local Digital Capital can be strengthened to help recovery
  • techUK identifies specific strategies to help build on the North East’s digital strengths to level-up the North East’s economy
  • The North East’s GVA growth is predicted to decline by 8.4%, as the region experiences the greatest proportion of businesses with a decrease in turnover in the UK
  • However, the North East’s digital capability has improved by 7%, compared to 1% nationwide, signalling an uptake of these skills in the region

7 December 2020 techUK, the UK’s leading technology membership organisation, today publishes a new in-depth analysis of the North-East that identifies the role digital technology must play to safeguard its economic recovery and drive future prosperity.

Building The Future We Need – a UK-wide series of regional and national reports – highlights the urgent need for the UK to increase its digital capabilities to tackle the immediate challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to ensuring an innovation-led economic recovery.

The report identified that while the North East has been hit hard by COVID-19, the local tech economy provides a strong basis for the economy to be revitalized. By bringing together the views of representatives from across the regional economy, this report provides specific, practical recommendations for how local digital capital can be further strengthened to help deliver a levelled-up economy.

 

Key findings for the North East:

It recommends that policies extend beyond the most obvious levers of broadband and digital skills to encompass issues such as digital adoption, data ecosystems, innovation funding and investment and trade support – the set of capabilities identified by techUK that comprise an area’s Local Digital Capital.

The North East has already taken great strides by bringing forward innovative projects in these areas, providing a strong platform to build on. For example, the North of Tyne Combined Authority’s £10million Digital Growth and Innovation Programme is set to deliver ambitious programmes in areas such as boosting data analytics capabilities in local businesses and providing greater investment for burgeoning tech startups. In November 2020, North East techUK member Sage announced a new programme worth up to £1.4million to help local startups and microbusinesses adopt digital technology.

It is estimated that addressing the growing digital-capital gap would boost the UK’s economic output by as much as £145 billion, creating 2.7 million new jobs in the process and see combined revenues among small and medium-sized enterprises increase by £325 billion.

Building the Future We Need was developed through a series of virtual Digital Dialogues held between March-September with business and civic leaders across seven of the UK’s nations and regions. The reports show the benefits of a greater focus being applied on a local level – across the UK’s regions and nations – that capitalise on local knowledge, expertise, networks and capabilities, with support from national policy and resources. The regional reports are accompanied by a UK-wide report, Strengthening Local Capital: For a Levelled-up Economy. [To add link]

 

Local Digital Capital

Much like the concept of human capital, each component of Local Digital Capital enables individuals, companies and the public sector to interact and work more effectively – producing something of economic value. The strength of each of these inputs impacts the strength of the local ecosystem.

The following eight components were identified by techUK's research as the essential inputs necessary for an area to benefit from digital innovation:

  • Effective collaboration and coordination – across the public and private sectors
  • Digital skills – skillsets that encompass everything from basic computer and Internet literacy to cutting-edge knowledge about AI and quantum computing
  • Digital adoption – the uptake of digital tech by firms of all sizes leads to gains in efficiency and productivity and allows for greater levels of innovation. Digital adoption typically focuses on the use of cloud computing and software platforms by firms, from CRM to data analytics software.
  • Data Ecosystems that harness and unlock the economic and societal power of data securely and effectively, enabling collaboration across boundaries and sectors to respond and openly innovate to solve common challenges
  • Digital Infrastructure that provides high-quality, high-speed and resilient internet connections – essential for participating and thriving in our digitising economy and society. 
  • Sustained access to finance and investment for firms
  • Support for research and innovation to sustain growth and productivity increases
  • Increasing the update of digital platforms and electronic processes to make it easier for smaller firms to export to new markets

 

North East policy recommendations

A wide range of ideas were discussed at the Digital Dialogues across the UK, which have been synthesized into three broad recommendations for suggested collaboration and next steps across businesses, the tech sector and local Government in the North East:

  1. Work together to strengthen local digital capital
    The North East’s potential to recover will depend upon the strength of its local digital capital. Local stakeholders from across the public and private sectors should work together to build on the impetus of existing programmes and initiatives and develop an integrated regional plan to strengthen the eight component parts of local digital capital. To maximise this, a specific leader of digital transformation should be appointed in the region to deliver this plan and coordinate action from public and private partners across the North East.
     
  2. Use digital to accelerate local growth opportunities
    The North East has several sectors that are primed for success, including digital construction and building information modelling, advanced manufacturing, life sciences, energy, digital and creative and transport and logistics. Building on examples such as  the North of Tyne Combined Authority’s programme  to boost digital adoption and business success within  growth sectors, concerted action should be taken to roll out similar programmes in other key sectors across the region to ensure they are at the forefront of digital adoption to accelerate their growth. In addition to this, we must consider how successful programmes initially rolled out in certain areas of the North East can be expanded to support a united approach to growth throughout the region as a whole.
     
  3. Launch local innovation challenges to tackle urgent problems
    COVID-19 has taken a heavy toll on many businesses, services and communities across the region, with ONS data showing that the region has experienced the greatest proportion of businesses with a decrease in turnover. Particular concerns for the region are concerns about Brexit, a major recession, disjointed and ineffective policy responses, the potential that businesses will ‘hunker down’ and survive rather than grow, and that the pandemic will exacerbate regional disparities. But businesses and policymakers in the North East have already begun to step up to help businesses fight back. The North East should harness this momentum by establishing further local innovation challenges that are delivered in partnership between the tech sector, other private sector partners and the public sector, which will encourage additional ideas and new innovative solutions to some of its most urgent local problems, from housing and healthcare to supporting high streets, public spaces, and the creative economy.

 

Julian David, CEO, techUK said: “How can we use digital technology not just to get back to where we were, but to build the future we need? A future that works better for people, society, economy and planet. That is the question that techUK has been asking over the last six months.

“The pandemic has taken a tremendous toll on people, businesses and public services. But it has also demonstrated the way in which technology has been put to work helping people adapt and reinvent. At the same time, the unique challenges presented by COVID-19 has only reiterated the need to address the structural inequalities that shape prosperity across the UK’s regions and nations.

“Closing the Local Digital Capital gap would transform the UK, boosting economic output by as much as £145 billion and creating 2.7 million new jobs in the process. Covid-19 has the potential to act as a catalyst for change, giving us an opportunity to address the Local Digital Capital Gap, level up the region and seize local growth opportunities in sectors where the North East is a pioneer – from digital construction to life sciences and energy. 

“This report sets out how digital technology can contribute to creating a more levelled-up economy – by creating new jobs, broadening the flow of investment, and by being able to deploy the enabling tools for the rest of the economy to thrive and for us to be able to deliver public services efficiently.

Jacqueline de Rojas, President, techUK said: “The UK is already one of the world’s leading digital economies, but the benefits have too often been concentrated in the South East of England, as a result of the extraordinary agglomeration effects driven by London.

“With concerted action this can change, and the benefits of digital innovation and growth can be more widely and fairly distributed across the UK. But the conditions for that change have to be created – it will not happen by accident, especially in world where cities, regions and nations around the world are competing for digital leadership.

“The experience of using technology to adapt to the impact of COVID-19 has demonstrated how much can been achieved. Working together, we now need to apply that same sense of purpose in preparing for what comes next.”

Paul Struthers, Managing Director UK & Ireland, Sage said: “COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of embedding strong digital capital in every part of the UK economy. The ability of the UK’s nations and regions to create new jobs, increase productivity and remain competitive on a global basis hinges on the extent to which businesses and communities can harness technology. 

“The North East has many strengths to build on when it comes to boosting Local Digital Capital. We have a vibrant local tech sector that ranges from innovative startups to established international players. Several exciting new programmes have been unveiled in the North East in recent weeks to ensure more businesses and communities feel the benefits of digital growth as the region looks to recover from the impacts the pandemic.   

“At Sage we have welcomed the North of Tyne Combined Authority’s commitments through their Digital Growth and Innovation Programme. As one of the leading tech companies based in the North East, Sage is also stepping up with a new initiative to help local startups and businesses adopt technology through a new Small Business Growth Programme worth up to £1.4million. We look forward to working with regional partners to drive forward these programmes to further strengthen the region’s local digital capital and put technology at the heart of the North East’s economic recovery.”

Northern Ireland

techUK leads industry call to tackle Digital Capital gap in Northern Ireland

  • New report highlights the ways that Local Digital Capital can be strengthened to help recovery
  • techUK identifies specific strategies to help to build on Northern Ireland’s digital strengths and level-up Northern Ireland’s economy
  • The COVID-19 pandemic is estimated to have reduced the economic output in Northern Ireland by as much as 9.6% in 2020

[NORTHERN IRELAND] 7 December 2020 techUK, the UK’s leading technology membership organisation, today publishes a new in-depth analysis of Northern Ireland that identifies the role digital technology must play to safeguard its economic recovery and future prosperity.

Building the Future We Need – a UK-wide series of regional and national reports – highlights the urgent need for the UK to increase its digital capabilities to tackle the immediate challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to ensuring an innovation-led economic recovery.

The report’s spotlight on Northern Ireland identified that while the region has been hit hard by the pandemic, its growing tech sector provides strong opportunities for the economy to be revitalised. By bringing together the views of representatives from across the regional economy, this report provides specific, practical recommendations for how local digital capital can be further strengthened to help deliver a levelled-up economy.

 

Key findings for Northern Ireland include:

  • The COVID-19 pandemic is estimated to have reduced the economic output in Northern Ireland by as much as 9.6% in 2020
  • The local digital sector is worth around £1billion to the economy
  • Research suggests that Northern Ireland has the worst rates in the UK regarding digital skills, with 32.2% of those aged 16-65 having low or no digital skills
  • Northern Ireland also continues to have the highest proportion of internet non-users in the UK at 14.2% of the population
  • Northern Ireland also has the highest proportion of jobs susceptible to automation in the UK, sitting at 48.5% compared to a UK average of 45.4%

The report recommends that policies extend beyond the most obvious levers of broadband and digital skills to encompass issues such as digital adoption, data ecosystems, innovation funding and investment and trade support – the set of capabilities identified by techUK that comprise an area’s Local Digital Capital.

It is estimated that addressing the digital capital gap would boost the UK’s economic output by as much as £145 billion, creating 2.7 million new jobs in the process, and increase combined revenues among small and medium-sized enterprises by £325 billion, according to Sage.

 

Local Digital Capital

Much like the concept of human capital, each component of Local Digital Capital enables individuals, companies, and the public sector to interact and work more effectively – producing something of economic value. The strength of each of these inputs impacts the strength of the local ecosystem.

The following eight components were identified by techUK's research as the essential inputs necessary for an area to benefit from digital innovation:

  • Effective collaboration and coordination – across the public and private sectors
  • Digital skills for all – skillsets that encompass everything from basic computer and internet literacy to cutting-edge knowledge about AI and quantum computing
  • Digital adoption – the uptake of digital tech by firms of all sizes leads to gains in efficiency and productivity and allows for greater levels of innovation. Digital adoption typically focuses on the use of cloud computing and software platforms by firms, from CRMS to data analytics software
  • Data ecosystems that harness and unlock the economic and societal power of data securely and effectively, enabling collaboration across boundaries and sectors to respond and openly innovate to solve common challenges
  • Digital infrastructure that provides high-quality, high-speed and resilient internet connections – essential for participating and thriving in our digitising economy and society
  • Sustained access to finance and investment for firms
  • Support for research and innovation to sustain growth and productivity increases
  • Increasing uptake of digital platforms and electronic processes to make it easier for smaller firms to export to new markets

 

Northern Ireland policy recommendations

A range of ideas were discussed at the Digital Dialogues across the UK, which have been synthesized into three broad recommendations for next steps:

  1. Work together to strengthen Local Digital Capital
    Northern Ireland’s potential to recover will depend upon the strength of its Local Digital Capital. Local stakeholders from across the public and private sectors should work together to develop an integrated regional plan to strengthen the eight component parts of Local Digital Capital. 
     
  2. Use digital to accelerate local growth opportunities
    Northern Ireland has several sectors that are primed for success, including advanced manufacturing, business services, creative and digital, food and drink, tourism and life sciences. Concerted action should be taken to ensure that these sectors are at the forefront of digital adoption to support and accelerate their growth. 
     
  3. Launch local innovation challenges to tackle urgent problems.
    COVID-19 has taken a heavy toll on many businesses, services and communities across the region. The Northern Ireland Executive should set out “local innovation challenges” in the model of “The Grand Challenges” in order to spur new local innovation, with a commitment to scale successful ideas. It should also challenge local innovators from across the public and private sector to come forward with new ideas and innovative solutions to some of its most urgent local problems, from digital skills and talent, to Brexit and trade.

 

Julian David, CEO, techUK said: “How can we use digital technology not just to get back to where we were, but to build the future we need? A future that is inclusive and works better for all people, society, the economy and the planet. That is the question that techUK has been asking over the last six months.

“The pandemic has taken a tremendous toll on people, businesses and public services. But it has also demonstrated the way in which technology has been put to work helping people adapt and reinvent. At the same time, the unique challenges presented by COVID-19 has only reiterated the need to address the structural inequalities that shape prosperity across the UK’s regions and nations.

“Closing the Local Digital Capital gap would transform the UK, boosting economic output by as much as £145 billion and creating 2.7 million new jobs in the process. Covid-19 has the potential to act as a catalyst for change, giving us an opportunity to address the Local Digital Capital Gap, level up the region and seize local growth opportunities in sectors where the Northern Ireland is a pioneer – from advanced manufacturing and engineering to the creative industries, and artificial intelligence and cybersecurity.

“This report sets out how digital technology can contribute to creating a more levelled-up economy – by creating new jobs, broadening the flow of investment, and by being able to deploy the enabling tools for the rest of the economy to thrive and for us to be able to deliver public services efficiently.

Jacqueline de Rojas, President, techUK said: “The UK is already one of the world’s leading digital economies, but the benefits have too often been concentrated in London and the South East of England. 

“If we are to build a digital economy that works for everybody, the benefits of digital innovation and growth must be more widely and fairly distributed across the country. This will not happen by accident and concerted action is needed especially in a world where cities, regions and nations around the world are competing for digital leadership. 

“We have seen how technology adoption has exponentially increased as we adapt to the impact of COVID-19. It demonstrates how much can been achieved if we work together. We must now apply that same sense of purpose in preparing us all for what comes next.” 

Mark Owens, Managing Director, Civica Northern Ireland said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for increased and improved online services for Northern Irish citizens – with a real appetite for flexible, online services increasing across all demographics, including the older generation, as well as demand for better access to services as more of us work remotely.

“Both the public and private sectors now agree this should be a driver for economic growth and needs to top our devolved Government’s agenda. There is also much to do to address our tech skills shortage: working earlier within the education system to encourage more people into STEM and digital careers. With this emphasis, NI has the capacity and capability to deliver leading digital services for the future.”

North West

techUK leads industry call to tackle Digital Capital gap in the North West

  • New report highlights the ways that Local Digital Capital can be strengthened to help recovery
  • techUK identifies specific strategies to help level-up the North West’s  economy
  • The North West’s GVA has decreased by 9.5%, which puts it in the top four regions worst hit by the pandemic

[NORTH WEST] 7 December 2020 techUK, the UK’s leading technology membership organisation, today publishes a new in-depth analysis of the North West that identifies the role digital technology must play to safeguard its economic recovery and future prosperity.

Building the Future We Need – a UK-wide series of regional and national reports – highlights the urgent need for the UK to increase its digital capabilities to tackle the immediate challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to ensuring an innovation-led economic recovery.

The Building the Future We Need – the North West report identified the specific challenges facing the North West and provides practical recommendations for how digital technology can deliver a levelled-up economy.

 

Key findings for the North West include:

  • The North West experienced a drop of 9.5% in GVA  due to COVID-19 which puts the North West in the top four regions to be hit the worst by the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns.
  • The North needs to produce 80,000 digital workers by 2020. If current rates of growth continue over the next 25 years, then 1.23 million workers will need to be supplied by 2050.
  • 4G data is available across 72% of the North West region by all operators, and for voice calls it’s 95.8%.  

The report recommends that policies extend beyond the most obvious levers of broadband and digital skills to encompass issues such as digital adoption, data ecosystems, innovation funding and investment and trade support – the set of capabilities identified by techUK that comprise an area’s Local Digital Capital.

It is estimated that addressing the digital capital gap would boost the UK’s economic output by as much as £145 billion, creating 2.7 million new jobs in the process, and increase combined revenues among small and medium-sized enterprises by £325 billion, according to Sage.  
 

Local Digital Capital

Much like the concept of human capital, each component of Local Digital Capital enables individuals, companies, and the public sector to interact and work more effectively – producing something of economic value. The strength of each of these inputs impacts the strength of the local ecosystem.

The following eight components were identified by techUK's research as the essential inputs necessary for an area to benefit from digital innovation:

  • Effective collaboration and coordination – across the public and private sectors
  • Digital skills for all – skillsets that encompass everything from basic computer and internet literacy to cutting-edge knowledge about AI and quantum computing
  • Digital adoption – the uptake of digital tech by firms of all sizes leads to gains in efficiency and productivity and allows for greater levels of innovation. Digital adoption typically focuses on the use of cloud computing and software platforms by firms, from CRMS to data analytics software
  • Data ecosystems that harness and unlock the economic and societal power of data securely and effectively, enabling collaboration across boundaries and sectors to respond and openly innovate to solve common challenges
  • Digital infrastructure that provides high-quality, high-speed and resilient internet connections – essential for participating and thriving in our digitising economy and society
  • Sustained access to finance and investment for firms
  • Support for research and innovation to sustain growth and productivity increases
  • Increasing uptake of digital platforms and electronic processes to make it easier for smaller firms to export to new markets

 

North West policy recommendations

A range of ideas were discussed at the Digital Dialogues across the UK, which have been synthesized into three broad recommendations for next steps. The recommendations are aimed at the North West and Whitehall governments as well as business groups and public sector organisations across our nations and regions:

  1. Work together to strengthen Local Digital Capital
    The region's potential to recover will depend upon the strength of its Local Digital Capital. Local stakeholders from across the public and private sectors should work together to develop an integrated regional plan to strengthen the eight component parts of Local Digital Capital. 
     
  2. Use digital to accelerate local growth opportunities
    The North West has several sectors that are primed for success, including digital industry, eCommerce and banking. Concerted action should be taken to ensure that these sectors are at the forefront of digital adoption to support and accelerate their growth. 
     
  3. Launch local innovation challenges to tackle urgent problems.
    COVID-19 has taken a heavy toll on many businesses, services and communities across the region. The North West  should challenge local innovators from across the public and private sector to come forward with new ideas and innovative solutions to some of its most urgent local problems, from housing and healthcare to supporting high streets, public spaces, and the creative economy.

 

Julian David, CEO, techUK said: “How can we use digital technology not just to get back to where we were, but to build the future we need? A future that is inclusive and works better for all people, society, the economy and the planet. That is the question that techUK has been asking over the last six months.

“The pandemic has taken a tremendous toll on people, businesses and public services. But it has also demonstrated the way in which technology has been put to work helping people adapt and reinvent. At the same time, the unique challenges presented by COVID-19 has only reiterated the need to address the structural inequalities that shape prosperity across the UK’s regions and nations.

“Closing the Local Digital Capital gap would transform the UK, boosting economic output by as much as £145 billion and creating 2.7 million new jobs in the process. This is specifically the case in the North West where digital solutions will need to close the 9.5% gap in GVA the COVID-19 pandemic has catalysed.

“This report sets out how digital technology can contribute to growing the economy of the North West  and creating a more balanced economy across the UK – by creating new jobs, broadening the flow of investment, and by deploying the enabling tools for the rest of the economy to thrive and  deliver public services efficiently.”

Jacqueline de Rojas, President, techUK said: “The UK is already one of the world’s leading digital economies, but the benefits have too often been concentrated in London and the South East of England. 

“If we are to build a digital economy that works for everybody, the benefits of digital innovation and growth must be more widely and fairly distributed across the country. This will not happen by accident and concerted action is needed especially in a world where cities, regions and nations around the world are competing for digital leadership. 

“We have seen how technology adoption has exponentially increased as we adapt to the impact of COVID-19. It demonstrates how much can been achieved if we work together. We must now apply that same sense of purpose in preparing us all for what comes next.” 

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said:  “It is vitally important that we use the COVID-19 crisis as an opportunity for transformation and to build back better. We need to start thinking of digital connectivity as a fundamental human right, and when we come out of this pandemic, we must not entrench the inequalities that have been exposed by it, but instead commit to levelling up, and invest in closing the digital gaps we see in our regions across the country.”

Richard Checkley, Defence Information Director at BAE Systems, said: “Cutting-edge digital technology is fundamental to the role that our industries play in providing critical capabilities for the nation. As a company that employs more than 30,000 people across the UK, we are hugely committed to ensuring that we invest in our people and the skills and technologies they need to fulfil their roles today, and in the future.  

“We extend that commitment to our communities and work closely with our suppliers and partners to drive a breadth and depth of digital capability across the UK. This report is extremely valuable in focusing those efforts and helping drive digital upskilling across the UK. We welcome the report and look forward to working with UK Government to address its findings.”

Scotland

techUK leads industry call to tackle Digital Capital gap in Scotland

  • New report highlights the ways that Local Digital Capital can be strengthened to help recovery

  • techUK identifies specific strategies deliver a digital-led recovery to level-up Scotland

  • Scotland’s national economy saw a fall in gross domestic product of more than one third preceding the lockdown period,, but the report finds the pandemic has spurred digital adoption

[SCOTLAND] 7 December 2020 techUK, the UK’s leading technology membership organisation, today publishes a new in-depth analysis of the Scotland that identifies the role digital technology must play to safeguard its economic recovery and future prosperity.

Building the Future We Need – a UK-wide series of regional and national reports – highlights the urgent need for the UK to increase its digital capabilities to tackle the immediate challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to ensuring an innovation-led economic recovery.

The Building the Future We Need – Scotland report identified the specific challenges facing the Scotland and provides practical recommendations for how digital technology can deliver a levelled-up economy.

 

Key findings for Scotland include:

  • The Scottish Government’s economic assessment from June 2020 saw a fall in gross domestic product (GDP) of more than one-third during the preceding lockdown period, and 14% over the previous year
  • Scotland faces a significant digital skills gap, with ScotlandIS suggesting that 75% of employers struggle to recruit qualified digital staff, coinciding with a 31% reduction in computing education and high dropout rate of computer science undergraduates
  • However, research shows that small businesses in Scotland are ahead of the UK average, with 60% having all six digital skills classified as ‘essential’ by Lloyds bank, and only 1% of SMEs offline
  • 63% of businesses leaders in Scotland believe that digital is relevant to their business

The report recommends that policies extend beyond the most obvious levers of broadband and digital skills to encompass issues such as digital adoption, data ecosystems, innovation funding and investment and trade support – the set of capabilities identified by techUK that comprise an area’s Local Digital Capital.

It is estimated that addressing the digital capital gap would boost the UK’s economic output by as much as £145 billion, creating 2.7 million new jobs in the process, and increase combined revenues among small and medium-sized enterprises by £325 billion, according to Sage.  
 

Local Digital Capital

Much like the concept of human capital, each component of Local Digital Capital enables individuals, companies, and the public sector to interact and work more effectively – producing something of economic value. The strength of each of these inputs impacts the strength of the local ecosystem.

The following eight components were identified by techUK's research as the essential inputs necessary for an area to benefit from digital innovation:

  • Effective collaboration and coordination – across the public and private sectors
  • Digital skills for all – skillsets that encompass everything from basic computer and internet literacy to cutting-edge knowledge about AI and quantum computing
  • Digital adoption – the uptake of digital tech by firms of all sizes leads to gains in efficiency and productivity and allows for greater levels of innovation. Digital adoption typically focuses on the use of cloud computing and software platforms by firms, from CRMS to data analytics software
  • Data ecosystems that harness and unlock the economic and societal power of data securely and effectively, enabling collaboration across boundaries and sectors to respond and openly innovate to solve common challenges
  • Digital infrastructure that provides high-quality, high-speed and resilient internet connections – essential for participating and thriving in our digitising economy and society
  • Sustained access to finance and investment for firms
  • Support for research and innovation to sustain growth and productivity increases
  • Increasing uptake of digital platforms and electronic processes to make it easier for smaller firms to export to new markets

 

Scotland policy recommendations

A range of ideas were discussed at the Digital Dialogues across the UK, which have been synthesized into three broad recommendations for next steps. The recommendations are aimed at local government as well as business groups and public sector organisations across our nations and regions:

  1. Work together to strengthen Local Digital Capital
    The region's potential to recover will depend upon the strength of its Local Digital Capital. Local stakeholders from across the public and private sectors should work together to develop an integrated regional plan to strengthen the eight component parts of Local Digital Capital. 
     
  2. Use digital to accelerate local growth opportunities
    Scotland has several sectors that are primed for success, including financial and businesses services, energy and renewables, food and drink: agriculture and fisheries, tourism and hospitality, life sciences and creative and digital. Concerted action should be taken to ensure that these sectors are at the forefront of digital adoption to support and accelerate their growth. 
     
  3. Launch local innovation challenges to tackle urgent problems.
    COVID-19 has taken a heavy toll on many businesses, services and communities across the region. The Scottish Government should challenge local innovators from across the public and private sector to come forward with new ideas and innovative solutions to some of its most urgent local problems, from housing and healthcare to supporting high streets, public spaces, and the creative economy.

 

Julian David, CEO, techUK said: “How can we use digital technology not just to get back to where we were, but to build the future we need? A future that is inclusive and works better for all people, society, the economy and the planet. That is the question that techUK has been asking over the last six months.

“The pandemic has taken a tremendous toll on people, businesses and public services. But it has also demonstrated the way in which technology has been put to work helping people adapt and reinvent. At the same time, the unique challenges presented by COVID-19 has only reiterated the need to address the structural inequalities that shape prosperity across the UK’s regions and nations.

“Closing the Local Digital Capital gap would transform the UK, boosting economic output by as much as £145 billion and creating 2.7 million new jobs in the process. 35% of SMEs in the Scotland lack the necessary digital skills that could allow them to grow, and by investing in closing the Local Digital Capital gap in the region, we can unlock businesses’ potential to grow and power our economic recovery.

“This report sets out how digital technology can contribute to growing the economy of the Scotland and creating a more balanced economy across the UK – by creating new jobs, broadening the flow of investment, and equipping businesses with the skills and tools they need to grow and thrive.”

Jacqueline de Rojas, President, techUK said: “The UK is already one of the world’s leading digital economies, but the benefits have too often been concentrated in London and the South East of England. 

“If we are to build a digital economy that works for everybody, the benefits of digital innovation and growth must be more widely and fairly distributed across the country. This will not happen by accident and concerted action is needed especially in a world where cities, regions and nations around the world are competing for digital leadership. 

“We have seen how technology adoption has exponentially increased as we adapt to the impact of COVID-19. It demonstrates how much can been achieved if we work together. We must now apply that same sense of purpose in preparing us all for what comes next.” 

Jane Wood, UK Nations and Regions Director, BT said: “In order to help Scotland’s economy recover and thrive, we need to unleash local potential and help local talent succeed. COVID-19 has made it clear that digital technologies can help catalyse the change we need, and techUK’s report has shown that greater levels of collaboration and coordination are at the heart of that process of change. At BT, we believe that we will make more of an impact if we all work together.

“The Scottish Government has made good progress on this through the Logan review and funding for tech scaler networks and digital adoption. However now is the time to seize the initiative and work collaboratively across the Scottish public and private sector to deliver increases in local digital capital and all the benefits this can bring.”

 

 

West Midlands

techUK leads industry call to tackle Digital Capital gap in the West Midlands

  • New report highlights the ways that Local Digital Capital can be strengthened to help recovery
  • techUK identifies specific strategies deliver a digital-led recovery to level-up the West Midlands
  • The West Midlands’ regional economy is forecast to shrink by more than 10% as a result of COVID-19, but the report finds the pandemic has spurred digital adoption

(7 December 2020) techUK, the UK’s leading technology membership organisation, today publishes a new in-depth analysis of the West Midlands that identifies the role digital technology must play to safeguard its economic recovery and future prosperity.

Building the Future We Need – a UK-wide series of regional and national reports – highlights the urgent need for the UK to increase its digital capabilities to tackle the immediate challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to ensuring an innovation-led economic recovery.

The Building the Future We Need – West Midlands report identified the specific challenges facing the west Midlands and provides practical recommendations for how digital technology can deliver a levelled-up economy.

 

Key findings for the West Midlands include:

  • 28% of trading businesses in the West Midlands reported their turnover decreased by more than 50%, compared to 25% businesses throughout the UK
  • It has been estimated that the West Midlands will feel a significant impact of COVID-19, with the regional economy forecast to shrink by more than 10%
  • More than half the SMEs in the West Midlands lack the necessary digital skills that could help them to grow
  • 18% of people in the West Midlands lack the essential digital skills needed for day-to-day life online, although 27% have boosted their digital skills during the lockdown period.

The report recommends that policies extend beyond the most obvious levers of broadband and digital skills to encompass issues such as digital adoption, data ecosystems, innovation funding and investment and trade support – the set of capabilities identified by techUK that comprise an area’s Local Digital Capital.

It is estimated that addressing the digital capital gap would boost the UK’s economic output by as much as £145 billion, creating 2.7 million new jobs in the process, and increase combined revenues among small and medium-sized enterprises by £325 billion, according to Sage.  

 

Local Digital Capital

Much like the concept of human capital, each component of Local Digital Capital enables individuals, companies, and the public sector to interact and work more effectively – producing something of economic value. The strength of each of these inputs impacts the strength of the local ecosystem.

The following eight components were identified by techUK's research as the essential inputs necessary for an area to benefit from digital innovation:

  • Effective collaboration and coordination – across the public and private sectors
  • Digital skills for all – skillsets that encompass everything from basic computer and internet literacy to cutting-edge knowledge about AI and quantum computing
  • Digital adoption – the uptake of digital tech by firms of all sizes leads to gains in efficiency and productivity and allows for greater levels of innovation. Digital adoption typically focuses on the use of cloud computing and software platforms by firms, from CRM to data analytics software
  • Data ecosystems that harness and unlock the economic and societal power of data securely and effectively, enabling collaboration across boundaries and sectors to respond and openly innovate to solve common challenges
  • Digital infrastructure that provides high-quality, high-speed and resilient internet connections – essential for participating and thriving in our digitising economy and society
  • Sustained access to finance and investment for firms
  • Support for research and innovation to sustain growth and productivity increases
  • Increasing uptake of digital platforms and electronic processes to make it easier for smaller firms to export to new markets

 

West Midlands policy recommendations

A range of ideas were discussed at the Digital Dialogues across the UK, which have been synthesized into three broad recommendations for next steps. The recommendations are aimed at local government as well as business groups and public sector organisations across our nations and regions:

  1. Work together to strengthen Local Digital Capital
    The region's potential to recover will depend upon the strength of its Local Digital Capital. Local stakeholders from across the public and private sectors should work together to develop an integrated regional plan to strengthen the eight component parts of Local Digital Capital. 
     
  2. Use digital to accelerate local growth opportunities
    The West Midlands has several sectors that are primed for success, including advanced manufacturing, transport and logistics, life sciences, digital and creative and housing and land. Concerted action should be taken to ensure that these sectors are at the forefront of digital adoption to support and accelerate their growth. 
     
  3. Launch local innovation challenges to tackle urgent problems.
    COVID-19 has taken a heavy toll on many businesses, services and communities across the region. The West Midlands should challenge local innovators from across the public and private sector to come forward with new ideas and innovative solutions to some of its most urgent local problems, from housing and healthcare to supporting high streets, public spaces, and the creative economy.

 

Julian David, CEO, techUK said: “How can we use digital technology not just to get back to where we were, but to build the future we need? A future that is inclusive and works better for all people, society, the economy and the planet. That is the question that techUK has been asking over the last six months.

“The pandemic has taken a tremendous toll on people, businesses and public services. But it has also demonstrated the way in which technology has been put to work helping people adapt and reinvent. At the same time, the unique challenges presented by COVID-19 has only reiterated the need to address the structural inequalities that shape prosperity across the UK’s regions and nations.

“Closing the Local Digital Capital gap would transform the UK, boosting economic output by as much as £145 billion and creating 2.7 million new jobs in the process. More than half of SMEs in the West Midlands lack the necessary digital skills that could allow them to grow, and by investing in closing the Local Digital Capital gap in the region, we can unlock businesses’ potential to grow and power our economic recovery.

“This report sets out how digital technology can contribute to growing the economy of the West Midlands and creating a more balanced economy across the UK – by creating new jobs, broadening the flow of investment, and equipping businesses with the skills and tools they need to grow and thrive.”

Jacqueline de Rojas, President, techUK said: “The UK is already one of the world’s leading digital economies, but the benefits have too often been concentrated in London and the South East of England.   

“If we are to build a digital economy that works for everybody, the benefits of digital innovation and growth must be more widely and fairly distributed across the country. This will not happen by accident and concerted action is needed especially in a world where cities, regions and nations around the world are competing for digital leadership.   

“We have seen how technology adoption has exponentially increased as we adapt to the impact of COVID-19. It demonstrates how much can been achieved if we work together. We must now apply that same sense of purpose in preparing us all for what comes next.” 

Margot James, Executive Chair, Warwick Manufacturing Group comments: “Digital technology is both at the heart of how the West Midlands is surviving the pandemic and how the region will bounce back next year. Digital will be front and centre of our ability to innovate and grow again as a region. 

“I welcome techUK’s contribution, via the Digital Dialogues, to raising the awareness of the benefits that technology will bring to our shared future alongside what we at WMG and the University of Warwick are doing to help to close the digital divide through education and skills training, whether that be at the level of individual citizens, or the thousands of SMEs who we have helped to digitise their manufacturing processes.”

Yorkshire and Humberside

techUK leads industry call to tackle Digital Capital gap in Yorkshire and Humberside

  • New report highlights the ways that Local Digital Capital can be strengthened to help recovery
  • techUK identifies specific strategies to help level-up the economy in  Yorkshire and Humberside
  • Yorkshire and Humberside’s GVA is expected to  decrease by 12%, as a result of the pandemic

[YORKSHIRE AND HUMBERSIDE] 7 December 2020 techUK, the UK’s leading technology membership organisation, today publishes a new in-depth analysis of Yorkshire and Humberside that identifies the role digital technology must play to safeguard its economic recovery and future prosperity.

Building the Future We Need – a UK-wide series of regional and national reports – highlights the urgent need for the UK to increase its digital capabilities to tackle the immediate challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to ensuring an innovation-led economic recovery.

The Building the Future We Need – the Yorkshire and Humberside report identified the specific challenges facing Yorkshire and provides practical recommendations for how digital technology can deliver a levelled-up economy.

 

Key findings for Yorkshire and Humberside include:

  •  The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting lockdowns have caused the value of goods and services to fall by £170 million per day, a daily drop of 37% in value, in Yorkshire and Humberside.
  • In Yorkshire and Humberside GVA has been forecasted to decrease by 12% as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • 16% of the working population in Yorkshire and Humberside are without basic digital skills.

The report recommends that policies extend beyond the most obvious levers of broadband and digital skills to encompass issues such as digital adoption, data ecosystems, innovation funding and investment and trade support – the set of capabilities identified by techUK that comprise an area’s Local Digital Capital.

It is estimated that addressing the digital capital gap would boost the UK’s economic output by as much as £145 billion, creating 2.7 million new jobs in the process, and increase combined revenues among small and medium-sized enterprises by £325 billion, according to Sage.  
 

Local Digital Capital

Much like the concept of human capital, each component of Local Digital Capital enables individuals, companies, and the public sector to interact and work more effectively – producing something of economic value. The strength of each of these inputs impacts the strength of the local ecosystem.

The following eight components were identified by techUK's research as the essential inputs necessary for an area to benefit from digital innovation:

  • Effective collaboration and coordination – across the public and private sectors
  • Digital skills for all – skillsets that encompass everything from basic computer and internet literacy to cutting-edge knowledge about AI and quantum computing
  • Digital adoption – the uptake of digital tech by firms of all sizes leads to gains in efficiency and productivity and allows for greater levels of innovation. Digital adoption typically focuses on the use of cloud computing and software platforms by firms, from CRMS to data analytics software
  • Data ecosystems that harness and unlock the economic and societal power of data securely and effectively, enabling collaboration across boundaries and sectors to respond and openly innovate to solve common challenges
  • Digital infrastructure that provides high-quality, high-speed and resilient internet connections – essential for participating and thriving in our digitising economy and society
  • Sustained access to finance and investment for firms
  • Support for research and innovation to sustain growth and productivity increases
  • Increasing uptake of digital platforms and electronic processes to make it easier for smaller firms to export to new markets

 

Yorkshire and Humberside policy recommendations

A range of ideas were discussed at the Digital Dialogues across the UK, which have been synthesized into three broad recommendations for next steps. The recommendations are aimed at Yorkshire and Humberside and Whitehall governments as well as business groups and public sector organisations across our nations and regions:

  1. Work together to strengthen Local Digital Capital
    The region's potential to recover will depend upon the strength of its Local Digital Capital. Local stakeholders from across the public and private sectors should work together to develop an integrated regional plan to strengthen the eight component parts of Local Digital Capital. 
     
  2. Use digital to accelerate local growth opportunities
    Yorkshire and Humberside have several sectors that are primed for success, including advanced manufacturing, health tech, and design and engineering.  Concerted action should be taken to ensure that these sectors are at the forefront of digital adoption to support and accelerate their growth. 
     
  3. Launch local innovation challenges to tackle urgent problems.
    COVID-19 has taken a heavy toll on many businesses, services and communities across the region. Yorkshire and Humberside should challenge local innovators from across the public and private sector to come forward with new ideas and innovative solutions to some of its most urgent local problems, from housing and healthcare to supporting high streets, public spaces, and the creative economy.

 

Julian David, CEO, techUK said: “How can we use digital technology not just to get back to where we were, but to build the future we need? A future that is inclusive and works better for all people, society, the economy and the planet. That is the question that techUK has been asking over the last six months.

“The pandemic has taken a tremendous toll on people, businesses and public services. But it has also demonstrated the way in which technology has been put to work helping people adapt and reinvent. At the same time, the unique challenges presented by COVID-19 has only reiterated the need to address the structural inequalities that shape prosperity across the UK’s regions and nations.

“Closing the Local Digital Capital gap would transform the UK, boosting economic output by as much as £145 billion and creating 2.7 million new jobs in the process. This is specifically needed in Yorkshire and Humberside with the region’s GVA expected to decrease by 12% as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

“This report sets out how digital technology can contribute to growing the economy of Yorkshire and Humberside  and creating a more balanced economy across the UK – by creating new jobs, broadening the flow of investment, and by deploying the enabling tools for the rest of the economy to thrive and  deliver public services efficiently.”

Jacqueline de Rojas, President, techUK said: “The UK is already one of the world’s leading digital economies, but the benefits have too often been concentrated in London and the South East of England. 

“If we are to build a digital economy that works for everybody, the benefits of digital innovation and growth must be more widely and fairly distributed across the country. This will not happen by accident and concerted action is needed especially in a world where cities, regions and nations around the world are competing for digital leadership. 

“We have seen how technology adoption has exponentially increased as we adapt to the impact of COVID-19. It demonstrates how much can been achieved if we work together. We must now apply that same sense of purpose in preparing us all for what comes next.” 

Wales

techUK leads industry call to tackle Digital Capital gap in Wales

  • New report highlights the ways that Local Digital Capital can be strengthened to help recovery
  • techUK identifies specific strategies to help level-up the Welsh economy
  • It is estimated that the Welsh GDP decreased by 2.4% in Q1 of 2020 according to InBrief with 65% of Welsh businesses reporting a decrease in turnover

[WALES] 7 December 2020 techUK, the UK’s leading technology membership organisation, today publishes a new in-depth analysis of Wales that identifies the role digital technology must play to safeguard its economic recovery and future prosperity.

Building the Future We Need – a UK-wide series of regional and national reports – highlights the urgent need for the UK to increase its digital capabilities to tackle the immediate challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to ensuring an innovation-led economic recovery.

The Building the Future We Need – the Welsh report identified the specific challenges facing Wales and provides practical recommendations for how digital technology can deliver a levelled-up economy.

 

Key findings for Wales include:

  • During COVID-19, 65% of Welsh businesses experienced a decrease in turnover according to ONS, with 23% of businesses reporting their turnover decreasing more than 50%
  • The National Survey for Wales confirmed that 19% of the Welsh adult population do not regularly use the internet, and one in three people in Wales lack the ‘essential digital skills’ needed for day to day life online
  • Skills shortages cost Welsh businesses £350 million in 2018, according to an Open University report.

The report recommends that policies extend beyond the most obvious levers of broadband and digital skills to encompass issues such as digital adoption, data ecosystems, innovation funding and investment and trade support – the set of capabilities identified by techUK that comprise an area’s Local Digital Capital.

It is estimated that addressing the digital capital gap would boost the UK’s economic output by as much as £145 billion, creating 2.7 million new jobs in the process, and increase combined revenues among small and medium-sized enterprises by £325 billion, according to Sage.

Building the Future We Need was developed through a series of virtual Digital Dialogues held between March-September with business and civic leaders across seven of the UK’s nations and regions. The national and regional reports are accompanied by a UK-wide report, Strengthening Local Capital: For a Levelled-up Economy.

 

Local Digital Capital

Much like the concept of human capital, each component of Local Digital Capital enables individuals, companies, and the public sector to interact and work more effectively – producing something of economic value. The strength of each of these inputs impacts the strength of the local ecosystem.

The following eight components were identified by techUK's research as the essential inputs necessary for an area to benefit from digital innovation:

  • Effective collaboration and coordination – across the public and private sectors
  • Digital skills for all – skillsets that encompass everything from basic computer and internet literacy to cutting-edge knowledge about AI and quantum computing
  • Digital adoption – the uptake of digital tech by firms of all sizes leads to gains in efficiency and productivity and allows for greater levels of innovation. Digital adoption typically focuses on the use of cloud computing and software platforms by firms, from CRMS to data analytics software
  • Data ecosystems that harness and unlock the economic and societal power of data securely and effectively, enabling collaboration across boundaries and sectors to respond and openly innovate to solve common challenges
  • Digital infrastructure that provides high-quality, high-speed and resilient internet connections – essential for participating and thriving in our digitising economy and society
  • Sustained access to finance and investment for firms
  • Support for research and innovation to sustain growth and productivity increases
  • Increasing uptake of digital platforms and electronic processes to make it easier for smaller firms to export to new markets

 

Welsh policy recommendations

A range of ideas were discussed at the Digital Dialogues across the UK, which have been synthesized into three broad recommendations for next steps. The recommendations are aimed at Wales and Whitehall governments as well as business groups and public sector organisations across our nations and regions:

  1. Work together to strengthen Local Digital Capital
    The region's potential to recover will depend upon the strength of its Local Digital Capital. Local stakeholders from across the public and private sectors should work together to develop an integrated regional plan to strengthen the eight component parts of Local Digital Capital. 
     
  2. Use digital to accelerate local growth opportunities
    Wales has several sectors that are primed for success, including where carbon zero smart housing was discussed, with the opportunity to redevelop housing and ensure smart tech is used in all new homes to sustain independence for those living there and meet net zero goals. Participants also discussed using the Future Generations Act as a framework to create a comprehensive plan for Wales to fully utilise digital (along the lines of Estonia) given its strengths in the university sector, numerous tech firms, and strong devolved power. Concerted action should be taken to ensure that these sectors are at the forefront of digital adoption to support and accelerate their growth. 
     
  3. Launch local innovation challenges to tackle urgent problems.
    COVID-19 has taken a heavy toll on many businesses, services and communities across the region. Key concerns raised in the report included digital skills and retaining talent within Wales, the digital divide, the need for a clear vision and pipeline of how to make progress, and losing the digital transformation progress made during COVID-19 in the race back to ‘normal’. The Welsh Government should challenge local innovators from across the public and private sector to come forward with new ideas and innovative solutions to some of its most urgent local problems, from housing and healthcare to supporting high streets, public spaces, and the creative economy.

 

Julian David, CEO, techUK said: “How can we use digital technology not just to get back to where we were, but to build the future we need? A future that is inclusive and works better for all people, society, the economy and the planet. That is the question that techUK has been asking over the last six months.

“The pandemic has taken a tremendous toll on people, businesses and public services. But it has also demonstrated the way in which technology has been put to work helping people adapt and reinvent. At the same time, the unique challenges presented by COVID-19 has only reiterated the need to address the structural inequalities that shape prosperity across the UK’s regions and nations.

“Closing the Local Digital Capital gap would transform the UK, boosting economic output by as much as £145 billion and creating 2.7 million new jobs in the process.

“This report sets out how digital technology can contribute to growing the economy of Wales and creating a more balanced economy across the UK – by bridging the digital skills gap, creating new jobs, broadening the flow of investment, and by deploying the enabling tools for the rest of the economy to thrive and deliver public services efficiently.”

Jacqueline de Rojas, President, techUK said: “The UK is already one of the world’s leading digital economies, but the benefits have too often been concentrated in London and the South East of England. 

“If we are to build a digital economy that works for everybody, the benefits of digital innovation and growth must be more widely and fairly distributed across the country. This will not happen by accident and concerted action is needed especially in a world where cities, regions and nations around the world are competing for digital leadership. 

“We have seen how technology adoption has exponentially increased as we adapt to the impact of COVID-19. It demonstrates how much can been achieved if we work together. We must now apply that same sense of purpose in preparing us all for what comes next.” 

Minister Lee Waters, Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport said: “Digital is not just about technology, it’s about an open culture of innovation; and sharing and communicating are essential elements of that. And that’s why this event and network is important, it is only through dialogue that we’ll capture the potential of digital to improve lives."

Minister Lee Waters, Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport said: “Digital is not just about technology, it’s about an open culture of innovation; and sharing and communicating are essential elements of that. And that’s why this event and network is important, it is only through dialogue that we’ll capture the potential of digital to improve lives.”