Developing clusters for vibrant regions: Digital Technology in Norfolk

The brief

Front ImageWith the rapid growth of the creative, digital and new media industry in the last two decades, many locations across the UK see local micro and small businesses in this sector as having great potential. Shaping Norfolk’s Future, a public-private sector initiative that drove a shared vision for economic development in Norfolk before the New Anglia LEP was formed, commissioned YTKO Group to research the web development and digital technology sectors in the region and evaluate the local opportunities. To support more informed policy making, YTKO Group was asked to map and assess – in a very short timescale – these important sectors of the sub-region’s knowledge economy. We identified skills gaps, pinpointed existing and future potential, and indicated how to grow the cluster, enhance its capabilities, and deliver growth in the Norfolk economy.

Our response

YTKO Group conducted both primary and secondary research among digital and creative businesses, and with its Norfolk Network members. The interviews and focus groups held with this established, coherent and responsive community quickly provided rich data on the various challenges the sector faced in order to be able to grow. 

Results

YTKO Group’s report, Mapping the Web Development and Digital Technology Sector in Norfolk, presented clear and comprehensive evidence for a potentially large and highly relevant cluster: over 160 providers of web development, mobile, content and application services in Norfolk. Overlapping with some areas of the Creative Industries sector, there was also a high degree of independence and specialisation. Companies rated partnering and collaboration as the most significant benefit of a cluster. Access to local experts and mentors and a strong, marketable local brand followed closely as key requirements for a thriving sector, able to support and attract new talent and punch above its weight in competing for quality contracts. YTKO Group concluded that clear benefits and a significant contribution to the region’s GVA would result from providing targeted growth support, combined with cluster animation activity to stimulate opportunities for collaborations and connections. The Norfolk Network subsequently worked with industry leaders who had contributed to the report, catalysing two new Special Interest Groups for this sector: Hot Source Norwich, a platform for shared best practice, skills promotion and debate in the creative and digital sectors, and Sync Norwich, a similar SIG for coders, developers and start-ups looking for partners. Read more about YTKO Group’s expertise in supporting Business Collaboration through our Partner to Succeed programme.