Norwich ready to join A list of technology centres

James Duez, co-founder of Cuju media which has launched SportsQuest, a sports quiz app.
Photo by Simon Finlay. James Duez, co-founder of Cuju media which has launched SportsQuest, a sports quiz app. Photo by Simon Finlay.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014
7:31 AM

Norwich’s fast-growing reputation as a place to do technology business could see it join other clusters around the country on a map compiled by the Government-funded body Tech City UK.

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The tech clusters

Scotland

Northern Ireland

Manchester

Newcastle

Sunderland

Liverpool

Birmingham

Bristol/Bath

Cardiff

Sussex

Cambridge

Sheffield/Leeds

Despite being hailed as a world leader in technology by the Chancellor during a visit last November, the city does not feature on a 12-strong list compiled to accelerate the growth of digital businesses in cities and regions around the UK.

Tech City UK said that it was planning to visit the region in the coming months after it was contacted by campaigners in the region.

The Tech City initiative was launched in 2010 by the government to diversify the London economy away from financial services and capture the economic growth potential presented by the wave of technology companies that were growing in East London in the area also known as “Silicon Roundabout”.

In 2014 its role was expanded to work with the whole of the UK, and it now aims to support the growth of digital businesses across the country.

Katy Turner, chief marketing officer at Tech City UK said: “We’ve been very excited to hear about the growing technology start-up scene in the Norfolk area through our connections with the ecosystem there and are currently holding productive conversations with key members of the community.

“We’re also planning to visit the region in the coming months.”

Norwich’s reputation as an innovative Tech Cluster has encouraged businesses such as YTKO, an international business creation and growth consultancy, and Novagraaf, an international patent and trademark consultancy, to open offices here.

Digital entrepreneur James Duez, inset, is co-founder of St James Mill-based Cuju media, which developed SportsQuest, a sports quiz app. He is also on the board of WhiteSpace - one of the workspaces for tech start-ups in Norwich.

He said: “I’m involved in several innovative and potentially industry disruptive technology businesses. All have a sizeable presence in Norwich, including offices in WhiteSpace, because we know we can find talented and enthusiastic developers, designers and marketers here who understand the technologies, the challenges and the customers.”

Fiona Lettice, who lectures on innovation at the Norwich Business School at the UEA has also supported calls to put Norwich on the UK Tech Cluster map.

She said: “The strength of Norwich’s tech community can be seen in the Sync the City event planned for November 2014, This 54-hour Startup Weekend (Thursday 20 to Saturday 22) is organised by SyncNorwich, a local tech-working group with over 880 members. It will bring together entrepreneurs, product and software developers, and students to share ideas, and design, build, and pitch start-ups. Sync the City has received major sponsorship from Hewlett-Packard, Norfolk County Council, and the UEA, as well as support from local companies such as Rainbird Technologies, Purple Tuesday and Everpress.”

John Last, Vice-Chancellor of Norwich University of the Arts, said:“We are committed to attracting and retaining high quality creative talent to the city. We are a national and international magnet for creative people, particularly those specialising in Video Games Art and Design, Digital Photography, Animation, and Film. Our academic team includes Marie Claire Isaaman, Course Leader for Games, and Dr Maria Stukoff; both have been named in the Top 100 UK Women in Video Games.”

Chris Starkie, managing director of the New Anglia local enterprise partnerships, said: “We fully support this call for Norwich to be recognised for the strength of its tech and digital creative businesses. There is a powerful Digital Creative alliance in Norfolk of entrepreneurs, businesses, investors, universities and colleges, and local authorities.

Huw Sayer, owner and founder of Business Writers Ltd, who is a well-known champion of Norfolk on Twitter, contacted Tech City UK after seeing that Norwich or Norfolk was not included among the clusters it had highlighted.

He said: “I think it is so important that Norfolk is on the map so that bright young people do not feel they have to leave the city to make a start as a tech entrepreneur. It is important for the future of the city.”

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