Sheffield's digital sector 'on the cusp of something big', says report

Professor Vanessa Toulmin.
Professor Vanessa Toulmin.
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Sheffield is undergoing a digital revolution and the city's technology sector is on the 'cusp of something big' which could see a jobs boom in the next few years.

That is the optimistic picture painted in a new wide-ranging document called the 'Digital Report' - which provides a snapshot of the creative digital scene in the area and has been pulled together by industry leaders.

The report, jointly commissioned by the University of Sheffield and Creative Sheffield, has consulted dozens of companies across the Sheffield City Region working in areas of digital design, video games, digital art and culture,digital media and content, and digital making.

In doing so, it shows that more than 21, 000 people are employed in digital industries across the Sheffield City Region. And the top 25 tech companies alone employ more than 12, 000 people and bring in more than £2 billion a year.

In addition, the report found that digital companies in Sheffield are experiencing fast growth, with turnover increasing at 47 per cent.

It states that Sheffield has the talent potential to continue to grow its digital capabilities and is “on the cusp of something big” as the vast majority of companies are expecting to recruit more workers over the next year.

The report is due to be launched at the DINA creative hub venue in Sheffield city centre this evening.

Professor Vanessa Toulmin, director of city and cultural engagement at the University of Sheffield, said: "The creative digital sector in Sheffield has already made great strides.

"We now need to work collectively to attract and retain Sheffield’s digital talent and cultivate the digital leaders of the future.”

After providing a snapshot of Sheffield’s digital sector in 2017, the report goes on to provide a number of recommendations into how the industry can grow over the next few years.

These include improving the city’s profile with a new marketing strategy, the creation of working 'hubs' to help emerging businesses, and more co-operation with other cities.

It also highlights how Sheffield’s pipeline of talented students and graduates can galvanise further innovation and growth for the digital sector.

Report leaders believe that if these recommendations are followed, Sheffield could see a jobs boom in the digital sector in the coming years.

Councillor Mazher Iqbal, Sheffield Council's cabinet member for business and investment, said: “Our reputation for quality is as true and as important today for our creative and digital industries as it is for our advanced manufacturing and engineering capabilities.

"We innovate, we make and we create – these are themes that have really come through in the report and they are the qualities driving our transforming economy.”

This report is the fourth in a series led by the University of Sheffield that highlight Sheffield’s cultural vibrancy and creative capability. Previous reports have focused on Sheffield’s music, art and beer scenes - the latter of which found that Sheffield could claim to be the “real ale capital of the world.”

*We will be producing a more in depth feature on the report which will be online tomorrow and in print on Wednesday.