Bristol and Bath named as largest digital cluster outside London

Bristol and Bath have been named as being home to the largest digital cluster outside London in a new report revealing the strength of the UK’s tech clusters in driving national economic growth.

The Tech Nation report, welcomed by the Prime Minster and Chancellor of the Exchequer, who promised to back the growth of digital clusters across the country, reveals that there are over 60,000 (61,653) digital jobs in the Bristol and Bath region, second only to London.

Recognised last year by McKinsey & Co/Centre for Cities as having the only fast-growing, globally-significant technology cluster in the UK, the region has seen a 65% increase in new digital companies incorporated between 2010 and 2013. Local companies cite fewer major barriers to growth in Bristol and Bath than other UK regions with the key strengths of the cluster being its social networks, access to talent and property.

David Maher Roberts, digital sector specialist at Invest Bristol & Bath, said: “This report is further confirmation of what we already know; that the Bristol and Bath region is not just a major player in the UK’s digital economy, but across the globe. Our strengths in digital industries are partly due to our rich heritage in aerospace, advanced engineering, high-tech and creative industries.”

Alongside global leaders like Aardman Animations, Amazon (IMBD) and Hewlett Packard, the region is also home to Yogscast, which is behind the world’s largest gaming YouTube channel, and award-winning Opposable Games at Bristol Games Hub, the largest independent co-working hub for games developers globally.  Recently the region has secured major inward investment successes by big names in the tech world such as Somo, JUST EAT and Chinese telecoms giant Huawei.

The strength of the digital sector in Bristol and Bath has been integral to the growth of a thriving gaming industry, which is behind cutting-edge innovations such as the development of virtual reality technology for gaming and non-gaming applications such as aerospace and advanced engineering. Later this month, leading lights from the entertainment and gaming world will gather in Bristol for the inaugural SouthWest VR Conference, which will shine a spotlight on how virtual reality is transforming the way we interact with film, games, TV and animation.

Nick Sturge, director of SETsquared, Europe’s #1 tech incubator, said: “The tech and digital sector in Bristol and Bath has an excellent reputation for being home to the most skilled talent pool in the UK, strongly supported by the region’s four leading universities. The delivery of thriving incubator spaces such as the Engine Shed is also supported by the universities, providing tech and digital businesses with the perfect environment within which to grow and work collaboratively. The strong collaboration between sectors and the region’s support network gives businesses an important sense of identity, with 80% of companies in the region reporting they belong to a digital cluster.”

Tech Nation is the first comprehensive analysis of the UK’s digital technology clusters, an interactive data project that demonstrates the growth of these clusters in driving national economic growth. It confirms that the exponential growth of digital businesses is a phenomenon reaching far beyond the capital. The project has been developed and curated by Tech City UK, the government-backed organisation focused on accelerating the UK’s digital economy.

The report reveals that the top three digital sectors in Bristol and Bath are data management and analytics, software development and Edtech, with core capabilities including network infrastructure and protocols, systems design and integration, and UI and UX Design.

With 1.46 million digital jobs existing across the country, 90% of the UK’s digital companies expecting their revenue to rise in 2015 and 74% of digital businesses operating outside of London, the report demonstrates the UK’s digital business revolution is a nationwide growth story.

Digital job growth is predicted to outperform all other occupation categories by 2020 with Bristol and Bath being one of the fastest growing digital sectors in the UK.

Developed and delivered by Tech City UK, with key community partner, DueDil, Tech Nation is the first time the UK’s digital businesses, areas of specialism and employment figures have been comprehensively analysed.