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Bristol and Bath ranked UK's most productive technology cluster

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Written by: Gavin Thompson | Posted 12 February 2016 8:16

Bristol and Bath ranked UK's most productive technology cluster
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Bristol and Bath is one of the leading centres in the UK for technology businesses, according to a new report.

And it’s the cluster of technology companies here is helping grow the region’s economy.

That verdict comes from a Tech City UK and Nesta report published today.

Nick Sturge, of director of Engine Shed, which is home to many tech companies in Bristol, thinks the study is a glowing endorement of the impact the sector is making on the region.

“Tech Nation 2016 shows that digital tech businesses are helping power the economic growth of Bristol and Bath," he said.

“Our specialisms in digital advertising, cloud, gaming, software development and telecommunications are developing the cluster a nationwide reputation for digital excellence.

“As digital tech businesses are now enabling disruption across a wide range of traditionally non-digital industries will ensure the continued success and growth of this cluster for years to come.

“The exciting nature of the technologies and applications involved will help inspire a new generation of talent from our local schools.”

Nigel Toon of microprocessor company XMOS, which is based in Wine Street, said the firm had gained a lot from being based in Bristol.

“Having close working relationships with the local community of digital companies in Bristol and Bath has been of huge benefit to XMOS,” he said.

“The ability to share ideas and expertise across a collaborative cluster enables our business to grow faster and more sustainably.

“The digital tech ecosystem here is fantastic for starting and growing a digital tech business, and Bristol & Bath is rightly being recognised as a leading environment for digital tech entrepreneurs.”

The region has been attracting new companies too, seeking to capitalise on the rich talent without the same costs as London. One of them is online takeaway delivery platform Just Eat, which opened a tech hub in the city in 2014.

Group chief technology officer Carlos Morgado said: "The pool of outstanding, multi-disciplinary talent in the South West has enabled us to create a valuable team in a very short period of time.

"Bristol is at the centre of a cluster of world-class universities, providing us with access to the South West’s dynamic technology talent pool. We have an ideal base to contribute to our success and drive the next wave of invention and innovation for our customers around the world."

Rick Chapman, high-tech sector specialist at inward investment agency Invest Bristol & Bath, plays a part in bringing the likes of Just Eat to Bristol. He believes the region’s strength is its diversity of expertise.

“The report paints a compelling picture about the strength of the UK’s digital tech economy with the Bristol and Bath region right at the heart of its success," he said.

“With productivity in the digital tech economy outperforming other parts of the economy and our region coming out as the most productive, it’s evident that companies in Bristol and Bath are playing a leading role in driving the success of this sector in the UK.

“One of the key reasons for this is that the technologies created in Bristol and Bath have a multitude of applications that span a wide range of industries. Our region’s companies are therefore having a ripple effect that is having a dramatic impact on both digital and non-digital industries.”

Gerard Grech, CEO of Tech City UK, said the report provided an “unprecedented insight” into the growing economic importance of the UK’s digital businesses.

He said: “This report demonstrates the extraordinary growth rate of the UK’s digital tech industry, and its increasingly profound influence on established non-digital industries, such as retail and health.”

Geoff Mulgan, CEO of Nesta, added: “Digital technologies are unlike any others - they change everything businesses do. That's why, as this research confirms, digital jobs and activity are becoming ever more important in apparently non-digital industries.”

“And it's why the pay premium is so high, at an average of over £15,000 for digital over non-digital jobs. I hope that parents and teenagers will get the message - that acquiring digital skills pays off, wherever you are.”

The study shows you have to pay for talent. The average salary in digital tech industries in Bristol and Bath is £45,501. There are 36,547 digital jobs in the region so the sector is bringing well-paid, skilled workers to our economy. But the figures also show that investing in that expertise is worth it, as each of those workers brings in an average of £296,340 in sales for their business, making Bristol and Bath the most productive tech cluster in the UK.

Pictured: Bristol Mayor George Ferguson and Nick Sturge inside the Engine Shed, home to many of Bristol's top tech companies

Bristol and Bath tech facts

  • Average salary in Digital Tech Industries: £45,501
  • Digital GVA: £1.8 billion
  • Digital density (digital businesses as % of total businesses): 18%
  • Employment growth: 9%
  • Turnover growth: 53%
  • GVA growth: 26%
  • Key expertise: Digital advertising and marketing, gaming; apps and software development, telecommunications and networking
  • Key benefits of being here: commercial property (82%), local networks (81%), business support (65%)
  • There are 36,547 digital jobs
  • Bristol and Bath is the most productiye tech cluster, with £296,340 of sales per worker, way ahead of London in second with £205,390.
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