Sheffield manufacturing set to soar as digital reshapes the world

Sheffield could lead the way in digital manufacturing in a world being re-shaped by the pandemic and the climate crisis, according to the new head of Tech Nation.

Tuesday, 23rd June 2020, 9:37 am
Updated Tuesday, 23rd June 2020, 11:38 am

The city can boom on a mix of world class manufacturing skills and soaring digital productivity at a time when ‘resilience and doing the right thing’ have never been more important.

Stephen Kelly is the new chair of the organisation which promotes the UK’s increasingly powerful tech industry.

He said: “Take the ‘Made in Sheffield’ brand, apply the latest tech and you have world class manufacturing that’s less dependent on low skilled jobs at a time when I think the government will call for much more local sourcing.

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Stephen Kelly is the new chair of Tech Nation.

“Once we get out of this emergency, the real long-term emergency is climate change. It makes no sense to import goods with a lot of air miles when you can produce them in Yorkshire.

“It’s not just about resilience but doing the right thing.

“I think Sheffield is a crown jewel and Made in Sheffield could be world beating in future. This is a golden opportunity for a new golden era.”

Mr Kelly said the digital sector was growing six times faster than the rest of the economy and would account for half of UK GDP by 2030. It was also the best place in a world to start a tech business, according to the OECD. Add in firms like Sheffield-based WANdisco and you had "rolling thunder,” he added.

Stephen Kelly is the new chair of Tech Nation.

"Digital businesses can grow exponentially and create an ecosystem that employs cleaners, caterers, accountants and lawyers.”

And boss David Richards was an ‘exemplar CEO’, a compassionate capitalist creating wealth and jobs and - through his family foundation - supporting the local community.

He could also be a role model.

Mr Kelly added: “In Silicon Valley, the whole ethos is to celebrate role models. Sheffield has a lot to be proud of and a lot of hidden gems but needs to promote itself on a global stage.

“It has the fundamentals in place for some very successful companies.”

The city has strong infrastructure and world class universities. Productivity was £115,000 per employee in the region compared to the UK average of £99,000, he added. The median salary is £55,000-a-year. And Sheffield was a ‘great place to bring up a family’ with a great quality of life.

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