Why the London bubble needs to pop
If the past 12 months have made anything clear, it’s that the UK is a diverse landscape. Some may say divided.
This division is particularly noticeable when looking at our capital city in comparison to the rest of the country. The phenomenon of the London bubble isn’t new but we need only reflect on the post-Brexit referendum area maps for proof of the fact that London lives largely independently from the rest of the nation.
But politics aren’t the only thing isolating London from the rest of Britain. Widely celebrated as one of the world’s hottest innovation hubs, it can be easy to put the capital up on a pedestal.
Diversity as a key tech enabler
However, as the US tech community recently demonstrated through standing up to Trump, diversity is key contributor to the pioneering spirit of the industry. Distinct specialisms and unique ideas that come from varied cultural backgrounds allow greater collaboration and more rapid development.
Whilst encouraging a multi-cultural workforce within London, putting the focus entirely on the city is limiting the British tech industry’s potential for greatness as a whole. That’s not to do a disservice to the amazing ground that is being broken by start-ups and incubators across the capital, but to suggest that the pool of talent and ideas is broader than the Big Smoke can contain.
Beyond Silicon Roundabout
The global tech market, and investors might presume that London is Britain’s be all and end all, but Tech Nation 2016 found otherwise. Digital industries in the UK are growing 32 per cent faster than the rest of the economy, accounting for 1.56 million jobs nationwide.
The fact that this is a national statistic is exactly the point. We are too focused on London as the nucleus of innovation. Not only is this misleading – from Edinburgh to Bournemouth, the UK is polka-dotted with exciting hubs – but treating London as a separate economy is also damaging to UK business.
How to make it happen
Fostering the digital community outside the obvious boundaries must be a responsibility for the whole industry. Newcastle, Bristol, Reading… the talent resource is growing, and the support network should reflect this.
Initiatives to help redistribute the geographical bias of innovation, such as BIMA’s new regional council appointment, is vital and I’m delighted to be leading the charge for BIMA South. The new structure will not only allow myself and the other chairs to ensure that local innovations are recognised nationally, but through collaboration we can build a more future-facing, world-leading community in the UK. Wirehive is wholly committed to this goal.
Additionally. back in March, we partnered with digital agency Kyan to host Web Expo Guildford (WXG). On a mission to build a new, more value-led conference, with interesting and engaging speakers from the forefront of progress, the event is growing year-on-year and puts the diversity of the industry at its core, not a London location.
In a period of socio-economic and political instability the time for the tech community to pull together is now. Celebrating diversity and showing a commitment to innovation without borders will ensure the industry bucks traditional business structures and continues to go from strength to strength.