Digital technology is an engine of growth across the UK, growing at twice the rate of the rest of the economy; the sector now accounts £184bn. We’ve all heard about the success of what’s happening in London and other big cities but, a new Tech Nation Report highlights the impact that new Tech Hubs are having in towns such as Basingstoke. The so-called “Silicon Suburbs”.
Basingstoke has a vibrant and growing Tech Hub based out of Desk Lodge on Basing View. With the SETsquared incubator firmly established, along with the University of Surrey’s 5G test bed and VR/AR lab it represents a power base for future growth. So where does Basingstoke stand compared to the rest of the UK? Well, we’re in good shape and poised for greater things to come. Here’s how Tech Nation rated us on some key metrics.
A measure of turnover/employee Basingstoke is 5th nationally.
A measure of the digital specialisation in a town compared to the UK as a whole. Compared to the same towns as above Basingstoke is 4th at almost 5x the UK average. It’s worth noting that the figures for near neighbours Newbury and Reading are influenced by the presence of big multi-nationals like Vodafone, Micro Focus, Microsoft, Oracle, Cisco and the like.
Basingstoke is then well placed and in good shape but we must do more; we must do better. When Tech Nation looked at the maturity of businesses, Basingstoke was classified as mainly “mature”. We therefore need to dramatically increase the number of start-up and scale-up businesses in the region if we are to maintain and grow our position. Key to that is making Basingstoke an attractive place to do business. So, what, according to Tech Nation, are the top concerns businesses have here:
- Appealing area
- A helpful tech community
- Proximity to a University
Within “appealing area” there are two things that stand out 1) Quality of Life and 2) Cost of living, with the first being the more important. Basingstoke scores well here also with 7.8 out of 10 for quality of life while, cost of living at 4.1 is high but comparable to other towns in the region (source: Tech Nation).
As mentioned earlier Basingstoke has a vibrant and growing tech community. Desk Lodge has built a fantastic co-working space and SETsquared now supports upwards of 30 start-ups in its incubator there. There are a number of cutting-edge assets for 5G, VR/AR Lab and IoT networks on site that are free for companies and start-ups to use. Add to that networking events like the Google Developers Group, Talk5G, Basingstoke Tech Scene and IoT hack Weekends and it’s a community that’s rapidly coming together.
Finally, Basingstoke has close ties with the University of Surrey through its 5G Innovation Centre and SETsquared and has also established links with other universities in the region, of which there are many.
Basingstoke then has all the pieces in place but, we can’t stand still, we have to press on, we have to make Basingstoke one of the places to start and build a business. We can do it and if we are successful the benefits are clear but we need people to help, to get involved. From individuals to the corporations and businesses already in the town and the local authority we have to work together to make this happen.