Business Finance: Steve Muncey on East Anglia leading role in the technology sector

Steve Muncey of KPMG.

Steve Muncey of KPMG. - Credit: Archant

Towards the end of 2014, the flurry of good economic news was hit by choppy international waters.

Uncertainties across Europe and the world’s emerging markets hit home in the UK, ensuring that growth fell short of expectations. As a result the dynamism and growth of our private sector cooled in Q4.

For the naysayers, the technology sector is viewed as a fickle lottery. For every success story that sensationally disrupts the marketplace, it is imagined that there are hundreds of abstract ideas that barely take off.

Yet our quarterly Tech Monitor UK report published last week showed that it was the tech sector that bucked the trend late last year, defying the overall slowdown by outperforming the wider UK economy. The final quarter of 2014 also marks a period of sustained job creation in the sector that now stretches to five years.

Technology is associated with bright lights and big cities, so you would be forgiven for assuming that the third largest “innovation ecosystem” in the world is in New York, London or Tokyo. Yet according to a recent MIT survey, it can be found closer to home in East Anglia. With its lively cultural life, good transport links, academic heritage and established community of angel investors,

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Cambridge is one of the world’s most influential tech clusters. It produces processors for Apple and Samsung, and it is where Microsoft chose to set up its major European research lab.

Yet it goes far beyond Cambridg. As a home to 14,521 digital jobs, Norwich’s nascent tech scene has come a long way in a short period of time. In Suffolk, Adastral Park hosts BT’s global innovation and development centre, alongside the likes of Cisco, O2, Fujitsu and Huawei, all of which pioneer work in advanced technologies straight out of this county.

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While media reporting on tech communities is often London-focused, according to a recent Tech City report 74% of digital companies are based outside the capital. Out of all of the regions outside of London, very few are as important as East Anglia.

For this region to continue being a honeypot of technology and innovation, we need to make sure that we cultivate the STEM skills that are so vital to the sector. The world’s next Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs is) out there – this will hopefully ensure that they begin their journey in East Anglia.

: : Steve Muncey is office senior partner at KPMG in Ipswich.

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