Sheffield’s digital sector on precipice of ‘something big’

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Leeds Tech Hub Fund supports two more digital projects
Credit: Shutterstock.com/ SFIO CRACHO

A new report has highlighted the aptitude of Sheffield’s creative digital sector as the city sets out to welcome Channel 4.

The report – jointly commissioned by the University of Sheffield and Creative Sheffield – has consulted dozens of companies across the Sheffield City Region working in areas of digital design, video games, digital art and culture, digital media and content, and digital making.

In doing so, it shows that more than 21,000 people are employed in digital industries across the city region. The top 25 tech companies in Sheffield City Region alone employ more than 12,000 people and bring in more than £2 billion a year.

In addition, the report found that digital companies in Sheffield are experiencing fast growth, with turnover increasing at 47%. It states that Sheffield has the talent potential to continue to grow its digital capabilities and is “on the cusp of something big”, with the vast majority of companies expecting to recruit more workers over the next year.

After providing a snapshot of Sheffield’s digital sector in 2017, the report goes on to provide a number of recommendations into how the industry can continue to grow for the mutual benefit of companies and the city region. These include improving the city’s profile, public and private sector support for ‘hubs’ for co-working, and that Sheffield plays a greater role in “connecting the dots” between other northern cities.

It also highlights how Sheffield’s pipeline of talented students and graduates can galvanise further innovation and growth for the digital sector.

Professor Vanessa Toulmin, Director of City and Cultural Engagement at the University of Sheffield, said: “As Sheffield continues to propel the development of the UK’s industrial strategy and make its mark in the Northern Powerhouse, it is imperative that we support our region’s growth industries.

“The creative digital sector in Sheffield has already made great strides. We now need to work collectively to attract and retain Sheffield’s digital talent and cultivate the digital leaders of the future.”

Councillor Mazher Iqbal, Sheffield City Council Cabinet Member for business and investment, said: “Sheffield is known the world over as a city that makes. Our reputation for quality is as true and as important today for our creative and digital industries as it is for our advanced manufacturing and engineering capabilities.

“We innovate, we make and we create –these are themes that have really come through in the report and they are the qualities driving our transforming economy.”