Hull's digital talent prompts Saab to open new UK office at C4DI

By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 26 Apr 2017

State-of-the-art offices and the city's burgeoning digital talent has prompted an international defence and security company to make Hull its home.

Saab has chosen C4DI as its first UK base in the North of England.

Simon Read, UK director from Saab's Networks and Public Safety business unit, said "Saab has 5 offices in the UK but they are all in the South.

"We have clients nationwide, so wanted to the business to have a presence in a northern city.

"We already have a small team working in this area, and courses such as the University of Hull's computer science degree means there is a lot of great talent produced locally.

Why is Hull becoming the location of choice for digital companies?

"However, a lot of those graduates don't always stay in the area, meaning the city loses this talent.

"Opening in Hull means we can hopefully capture some of this talent and ensure it remains in the city."

C4DI is now Saab's UK base for a new software development team customising SAFE – a cutting-edge system used by police and other emergency services organisations.

Mr Read said "We looked a at a lot of different offices, and C4DI was above and beyond the right place for the business.

"It offers the opportunity for us to be part of a technology hub and digital community with software development expertise.

"Our intention is to work with people within C4DI on research and development projects in areas such as artificial intelligence and predictive analytics."

The C4DI building is the centrepiece of the £15m @TheDock development within the rapidly-evolving Fruit Market waterside quarter.

Developed and owned by Hull-based regeneration company Wykeland Group, it opened in December 2015.

According to the recent Tech Nation report, Hull's digital sector has annually boosted the local economy by about £254m over four years, with a 21 per cent increase in digital businesses during the past year alone.

The report also named Hull as the most cost-effective place in the country to run a tech business and said C4DI was driving digital growth by "providing co-working space, tech incubation and corporate innovation".

C4DI managing director John Connolly said: "It's fantastic that a company such as Saab, which has a worldwide reputation for technological innovation, is joining the C4DI community.

"Increasingly, the tech capabilities required by large companies are highly specialised and delivered by niche digital businesses or individual experts, which we have in abundance at C4DI.

"We not only house those experts, but also use them to build specialist teams to lead or work on projects for larger companies.

"It's a unique approach and a model we've proven at C4DI with many organisations benefitting from skills within the building. This, in turn, enables start-ups to grow and develops the wider community. It creates a virtuous circle of investment, innovation and growth."

Dominic Gibbons, managing director of Wykeland Group, said: "One of the key reasons for establishing C4DI was to create a focal point for the digital economy in the Hull area, to support the growth of local companies and employment and to attract inward investment.

"Saab's decision indicates C4DI is really helping to put Hull on the map as a centre for digital excellence and innovation and it will raise further the city's profile as a tech hotspot."

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