The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) has announced plans to support the continued growth and success of digital businesses across the North West with the creation of its new Digital Tech Cluster.
Located in close proximity to STFC’s Daresbury Laboratory, the Cluster will give businesses with ambitions to grow and compete globally unique access to the power of supercomputing, data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI). It will also help to speed up the development of new and innovative software products.
Based at the Sci-Tech Daresbury campus in the heart of the Liverpool City Region, the Digital Tech Cluster has a clear vision for the next decade, which includes:
• Creating 1000 high-value jobs across the region
• Growing a critical mass of 100 digital tech companies at Sci-Tech Daresbury
• Developing a thriving support network consisting of more than 300 companies across the North West.
Building on STFC’s know-how and previous success in the implementation and growth of bespoke clusters across the UK, the Digital Tech Cluster will provide a dynamic environment where businesses can thrive through access to STFC’s world leading research facilities, expertise, support and opportunities.
Paul Vernon, Head of STFC’s Daresbury Laboratory, said: “By combining the extraordinary technology strengths and unique assets of STFC and the Sci-Tech Daresbury Campus, we have been able to lay the foundations and provide an outstanding setting for the development and evolution of a new Digital Tech Cluster right here in the North West.
“The North of England is a hotbed of dynamic, innovative businesses and individuals that are achieving incredible things within the digital technology sector. By providing budding businesses with ready access to STFC’s world leading research infrastructure and digital expertise, the new Cluster will help them to overcome their digital challenges and speed up their innovation process. This will result in significant benefits to society and the wider economy, particularly as we recover from the pandemic, while also contributing to the delivery of the Government’s ambition to level up the UK.
“The digital technology sector is worth around £151bn to the UK economy and I am confident that, through the development of the Digital Tech Cluster, we are not only creating an outstanding environment for ambitious businesses to thrive, gain support and attract investment – we’re also developing crucial research and innovation skills and high value jobs that the UK as a whole will benefit from.”
Digital Tech Cluster businesses will operate within a dynamic ecosystem that offers ready access to experts and leading university academics located at the campus, as well as to the STFC Hartree Centre and its most recent collaborative programme with IBM, the Hartree National Centre for Digital Innovation (HNCDI).
Home to some of the UK’s most advanced computing, data and AI technologies, the Hartree Centre’s technologies, expertise and support will enable businesses to reduce their risk of exploring and adopting new digital technologies.
STFC’s Alison Kennedy, Director of the Hartree Centre, said: “Here at the Digital Tech Cluster, businesses of all sizes can have access to the infrastructure, expertise and support they need to overcome challenges, decrease risk and increase their productivity. Providing access to the cutting edge technologies here at the Hartree Centre enables businesses to increase the pace at which they can benefit from new digital technologies and achieve success – to the benefit our economy, both here in the North West and nationally.
The Digital Tech Cluster launch event, which took place on 23 November at Sci-Tech Daresbury, brought together businesses, stakeholders, academics and experts in the digital sector from across the region and beyond to learn more about the Cluster and the opportunities it will bring to small businesses over the next decade.
Speakers at the event included: Dr Barbara Ghinelli, Director of Clusters at STFC; Mark Basnett, Managing Director of the Growth Platform in Liverpool City Region; Alison Kennedy, Director of the Hartree Centre; Carl Wong, Co-Founder of DCW Ventures and Former CEO of Living Lens and Naomi Timperley, Co-Founder of Growth Strategy Innovation and Tech North Advocates.
James Bedford, Digital Tech Cluster development manager at STFC’s Daresbury Laboratory, said: “Digital transformation begins with enhancements and efficiencies but ultimately leads to disruptive technologies and new business models taking a large share of markets.
“We believe the Digital Tech Cluster will support the growth of 400 digital tech companies over the next 10 years and lead to the creation of 1,000 high-value jobs over the same period. It will be a game-changer.”