DIGITAL MINISTER: Sheffield’s reputation for innovation continues in tech

Digital Minister Matt Hancock writes exclusively for The Star.
Digital Minister Matt Hancock writes exclusively for The Star.
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Minister of State for Digital Matt Hancock writes for The Star

Over the past few years Britain has seized the opportunities of the growing tech industry.

We have become the undisputed European hub and jobs in technology are being created at twice the rate of the rest of our economy. This government is committed to strengthening the UK’s position as a world leading digital economy as a key part of our economic and social development.

It is essential that the benefits are spread across the whole country, so everyone has the improved chances to save money, find work, be entertained and educated, and access public services that digital technology brings.

This is from The Star’s DIGITAL SENSATIONS supplement, read it online here

That’s why in 2015 we launched Tech North, operating as part of Tech City UK, to bring together and galvanise the digital expertise across Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Liverpool, Hull and the North East. Through Tech North, we are supporting the growth of innovative tech companies through every stage of their development.

Last year, more than two thirds of UK tech investment happened outside London, showing tech really is leading the way towards the kind of balanced economic growth this country needs to prosper.

Sheffield is a great example of how digital is now reinvigorating our cities, spreading invention and investment. The city has long had a reputation as a place where things are both invented and made and this remains true in the digital age.

Earlier this week I met for the first time with the Digital Economy Council, a gathering of some of the tech sector’s most influential voices, including Emma Cheshire of Sheffield’s own Dotforge. The Council will bring together industry leaders with academia and Government to deliver new growth and jobs in the tech sector.

Digital tech companies aren’t simply born in Sheffield, they thrive here too, to become big players at national and international level. In 2007 Sheffield based Plusnet was acquired by BT while WANdisco was floated on the Alternative Investment Market in 2012. It is now a significant presence in Silicon Valley.

The tech scene in the city continues to build. Last year Access Space opened a new, inclusive makerspace in the city centre, where people can create, make and develop new products. The University of Sheffield meanwhile launched its Campus Capital fund, which will invest in early-stage digital tech companies, be they university spinouts or local startups.

And in April this year HRH Duke of York opened the University’s Factory 2050, the UK’s first fully reconfigurable collaborative research facility. Teams at Factory 2050 are working with manufacturing partners on projects spanning robotics and automation, digitally-assisted assembly and manufacturing informatics. All cutting edge stuff, all happening right here in Sheffield, which I have no doubt will continue as together we forge a new future outside the EU.

Read The Star’s DIGITAL SENSATIONS supplement, online here