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Government Digital Strategy to Boost Support for ‘Grassroots’ Tech Clusters

Tech will play an “important part” in the UK’s economic recovery, the Digital Secretary revealed.

Support for ‘grassroots’ tech ecosystems will be a key focus of the UK Government’s upcoming digital strategy, according to Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden.

Speaking at the UK Tech Cluster Group’s Roadmap to Recovery Summit this week, Dowden announced the new strategy will be published in Autumn this year.

Attended by more than 400 people, the Roadmap to Recovery event was put together to explore how to help the tech sector grow as part of the UK’s economic recovery and to better understand how digital can accelerate the recovery of other sectors.

The event explored a range of topics including the impact of Covid-19, and how tech clusters can help power the reboot of the British economy. Speakers on the day included tech cluster leaders from around the UK, policy leaders, leading CEO’s and international investors.

Closing the virtual conference in a keynote speech, the Digital Secretary conceded that Covid-19 has dealt the British economy a ‘sucker punch’ and acknowledged that we are ‘living in a different world’ following the outbreak of the pandemic.

Looking ahead, Dowden said that “tech must play an important part in our recovery” and revealed that the government will aim to cultivate a highly-skilled digital workforce, help citizens adopt digital more widely and, crucially, support businesses in being further enabled by technology.

A core focus of the UK Government’s strategy, Dowden insisted, will be to engage with regional grassroots tech ecosystems.

“The grassroots tech communities in all of our regions power growth and productivity across the whole of our United Kingdom. I know that when a lot of people speak about driving growth in tech, they’re thinking only of London and the South-East,” Dowden said.

“I’m determined to change that. When it’s published, our new digital strategy will form one of the building blocks of our recovery. A recovery that will be tech-led but will benefit all,” he added.

Formed two years ago, the UKTCG is a self-assembled group of individuals and organisations which support geographical digital technology clusters throughout the UK.

The Scottish digital technology sector is represented on the UK Tech Cluster Group Board by ScotlandIS, the country’s industry membership and cluster management organisation.

Jane Morrison-Ross, Chief Executive at ScotlandIS, commented:

“ScotlandIS is delighted to represent the Scottish digital industry on the UK Tech Cluster Group Board.

The road to recovery event demonstrated the power of national industry collaboration and brought together speakers and delegates from the Scottish Highlands to Cornwall.

Working together we have an even stronger voice to represent the tech industry in the UK and make sure the digital is critical message is at the heart of everything we do.”

David Dunn, UKTCG Chair and CEO of Sunderland Software City, said the organisation intends to release a report with recommendations on how the government can ensure grassroots tech companies and ecosystems are being represented in the upcoming strategy.

“I’d like to thank the entire Tech Cluster Group for making it possible and to the Digital Secretary for providing such an inspiring keynote, acknowledging the key role grassroots insights and communities must play in the upcoming digital strategy,” Dunn said.

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