techUK launches new index to help assess UK digital sector

Technology trade association, techUK, has launched a new framework to assess the digital tech sector across the different regions of the UK.

The Local Digital Capital Index was created in response to a consultation with the wider tech industry in March 2021.

This was in order to understand and measure the depth of local digital capital, as well as the building blocks that make up a strong technology ecosystem in each region in the UK for the purpose of the levelling up agenda.

The index measures eight components: Digital infrastructure, digital skills, digital adoption, data ecosystems, research and innovation, finance and investment, trade support and collaboration, and cooperation respectively.

Through these components, the index seeks to understand a region’s strengths and aid policy and decision-makers in their interventions and further investment in the digital economies of the nations and regions of the UK.

In its results, the index identifies the strength of London and the South East in the digital tech sector, but also shows reasons for other nations and regions to be optimistic, with strong findings in the West Midlands, the South West and Northern Ireland respectively.

However, the index notes that there is still much to do if the UK is serious about having a strong digital sector across the whole of the country.

techUK has listed a series of recommendations to improve the national tech ecosystem:

  • Build location-specific data on the strength of local data ecosystems.
  • Establish a Chief Digital Officer forum at a national level.
  • Continue to measure progress through further iterations of the Local Digital Capital Index.
  • Deepen the understanding across the sector of where and how collaboration can support growth.
  • Embed the Local Digital Capital Index into the digital strategies of decision-makers with a commitment to furthering Local Digital Capital in their locality.
  • Embed digital job growth in the post-Covid-19 recovery when considering levelling up across the UK, especially in regions, such as Yorkshire and Humber, as well as Wales.

Commenting, CEO of techUK, Julian David said:

“Our work identified a strong desire for a tech-savvy United Kingdom, where all nations and regions can participate in, and benefit from, a rapidly digitising global economy.

“However, what we lacked was an ability to measure the impact of digital technology on a specific locality. Our Local Digital Capital index seeks to remedy that.

“The index is not about playing one region off against another. It is a tool that we want local areas to be able to use to understand their own strengths, where they need to reinforce and where best practice can be found.

“At the same time, we want this to be a tool for national policymakers and a way of making the case for investing in regional digital economies as a part of the levelling up agenda.”

Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street said:

“This is a really important piece of work that demonstrates the progress we’ve made in the West Midlands to expand our digital economy.

“We’ve seen real success with initiatives like our 5G testbed and our Digital Skills Bootcamps, but we can do more in areas like digital adoption and data sharing, and this index gives us a useful tool to support our strategy.

“We’ve worked previously with techUK on our Digital Roadmap and I look forward to working with them on this, as well as the wider Local Digital Capital work to improve the region’s digital capability.”

The index comes after techUK began the development of the concept of Local Digital Capital, a way to describe the building blocks that make up a strong digital tech ecosystem.

This focuses on a number of digital dialogues with over 260 businesses, local and devolved government officials, tech sector representatives, start-ups and others.

The new index is the latest step in the work to develop the conversation and information required to strengthen the digital tech sector.

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