Hull's digital sector adds £254m to local economy

By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 22 Mar 2017

Hull's digital sector brought more than £250m to the local economy in just four years, according to a new study.

The Tech Nation Report 2017 found the city's digital companies produced goods and services to the tune of £254m between 2011 and 2015.

There was a 21 per cent increase in the number of digital tech businesses within the same period.

The sector now employs 6,914 people, with an average advertised salary of £34,895.

A total of 71 per cent of Hull workers in the sector rate their quality of life as good and 70 per cent rate digital growth optimism as good.

The report into the state of the UK's digital tech sector, published by Tech City UK, said: "The 2017 UK City of Culture has a burgeoning reputation as the epicentre of East Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire's digital tech community.

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"Digital tech startups are taking seed here in growing numbers, for example Sypro and Ash TV. "Established digital businesses, such as Trident and the ESP Group, call Hull home, too."

Driving growth was the £4m Centre for Digital Innovation (C4DI), said the report.

"Opened in 2015, it provides co-working space, tech incubation, and corporate innovation.

"Major digital music distributors Label Worx are based here.

"Hull's high-speed connectivity – it is the only city in the UK not served by BT – is helpful, too.

"Full fibre is available to more than half its businesses and homes, a significantly higher proportion than the national average."

It also said: "Hull University recently launched Viper – a university-wide High Performance Computing cluster – and has doubled the number of computer science graduates over the past three years."

Quoted in the report is Alex Youden, director of Hull-based NFire Labs.

He said: "We're making 3D printing as easy as possible to access by offering a complete package with the machine, consumables, maintenance and support included.

"Being located at the C4DI has enabled NFire Labs to grow and expand far quicker than imagined.

"The support, the contacts and the community all combine to create the perfect storm for startups."

Jon Polling, of another C4DI based company, Sauce – a mobile development team that designs and builds longterm, scalable platforms for clients – said: "By basing ourselves at C4DI – the heart of digital tech in Hull – we've directly benefited from the investment in digital.

"Our City of Culture status, high standard of living and tradition of entrepreneurialism create a vibrant place for digital tech startups."

Sauce's work includes information portals, IoT products, and internal business products across a range of industries.

Tech Nation noted that Hull and East Yorkshire's Digital Awards were now running annually to celebrate and promote the sector, and Hull's first £10m University Technical College was due to open in September, specialising in digital technology and mechatronics – the combined study of computing and engineering.

The "growth challenges" identified by the survey included limited highly skilled workers, highlighted by 47 per cent of respondents; poor transport infrastructure (35 per cent); limited investment opportunities (30 per cent) and low levels of awareness of a local digital industry (30 per cent).

Gerard Grech, chief executive of Tech City UK, said: "Tech Nation 2017 shows how rapidly the UK's tech innovation and productivity are gathering momentum.

"There are now significant tech hubs all over the UK, attracting both international investment and overseas talent.

"Tech careers now pay 44 per cent more than the national average wage.

"These foundations will be crucial as we prepare to leave the EU.

"We need to maintain access to skilled workers while doubling down on home-grown tech talent.

"And we need to think big. This report is all about working together on a common vision: the UK as a global leader in tech."

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