Following the recent launch of Tech Nation, we are running a series of profile pieces on each of the digital clusters featured in the report.
With two universities with a combined total of 65,000 students at a given time, Sheffield’s industrial past is transforming into a digital future. Digital employment in the ‘Steel City’ and South Yorkshire stands at well over 21,000 and companies in the region boast one of the highest rates of turnover growth of any cluster in the UK at 47%.
Not only is there expert help from local institutions supporting this success story (the University of Sheffield’s world-leading Computer Science department and Sheffield Hallam’s fully integrated Arts, Computing, Engineering and Sciences facility) but spaces such as Sheffield Digital Campus and pre-seed accelerator Dotforge.
In recent years, Sheffield’s tech growth has been demonstrated by two UK flotations in the shape of infrastructure software development Servelec (£122 million) and distributed systems developer WANdisco (£15 million).
Support for digital companies in the area is set to improve greatly. Since the launch of Tech Nation, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has committed to investing £11m into tech hubs in Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield. This demonstrates clear recognition of the success of digital companies in the North of England. The tireless work of Tech City UK Cluster Alliance members Lee Strafford, Steve Wainwright, Doug Ward and Emma Cheshire were instrumental in bringing about these investments.
Strafford, co-founder of PlusNet is excited about the future of Sheffield: “Where there is a critical mass of entrepreneurs and digital and creative people, you can create a Tech City like cluster. We are starting to see this around Sheffield in particular.”
Three companies were profiled in the report: