Imagine if we could build a technology eco-system in Basingstoke where more businesses could grow and succeed and at the same time be better and stronger than before and do this much faster than now, what if we could do all this? Wouldn’t that have a dramatic impact on our local economy, our society and our jobs and be something worth doing? But how should we go about doing that? What are the essential elements and what progress have we made with them?
A vibrant technology eco-system needs to be based around an inspiring workspace that will attract innovative businesses and provide the flexibility they need to build and try things out. Fortunately, this is something we already have in the Desk Lodge co-working space. It’s a space where businesses can grow, share and adapt. Where they can invent and reinvent their business and accelerate their growth
Critical to any technology eco-system is a technology scene where people can come and meet like-minded people and learn about the latest developments from experts. Here again we have made a good start with establishing these networks. The Google Developers Group has been running for some months now and regularly attracts developers interested in the latest tools from Google and how to use them. Also, Talk5G is building a regular following of people interested in knowing more about the next generation mobile technology and how it will dramatically change all our lives. It’s a good start but more needs to be done.
All businesses need support services such as accounting, legal and marketing and we have been working to find people that want to help, to get involved in what we are trying to do. We have had some success here too, having established links with a number of such local businesses that can help other businesses move forward with confidence.
For any technology business it’s important to have access to local assets that can be used to develop products more quickly and more reliably. Basingstoke already has one of only six 5G test beds in the country, courtesy of the University of Surrey’s 5G Innovation Centre and EM3 LEP, and connected to it a Virtual Reality lab and IoT (Internet of Things) network. These assets are invaluable for businesses that work in these leading edge areas of technology and we need to continue this work
As the Basingstoke technology eco-system grows it’s essential that people know what’s happening, how it’s progressing. Tech Juice was started to provide a single place where people could go and find out and to tell others about what they are doing as well
Much of what is required then has been started but we need to build and strengthen it, more people need to get involved to create a powerful community that will help drive it forward. Then what else is needed?
All businesses need an engaged investment community that can help fund new ideas and growth but, this is still an embryonic activity right now and it needs to be much stronger and more developed to be effective
Businesses need a complete support programme that provides continuity and a progressive pathway from concept through to fully fledge business rather than ad-hoc, sporadic programmes that create a roller coaster of help. This must be central to what we do.
Corporates and SMEs
There is no doubt that the proximity and engagement of Corporates and larger businesses is essential to the driving a thriving technology eco-system and this is something that is currently lacking. So we need to find ways to get them involved. It’s not about money, although that can help, it’s more about the support networks and connections they bring that can really accelerate growth. This is an area that needs a lot of attention in the coming months, as it’s crucial to break down the silos between Corporates, SMEs and Start-ups if we are to succeed
This all sounds like a big job, it is, but we must do it if we are to bring about the change necessary to create a technology eco-system in Basingstoke that will make it the place to start and grow a technology business.