The Tech Nation Report 2018 identified Stevenage, as one of the 16 Tech Towns in the UK, dubbed as Silicon Suburbs. It evidenced Stevenage as having high levels of digital tech employment, as a proportion of the wider economy. The report recognised Stevenage as a tech hotspot for high growth digital companies and an area that would support additional opportunities for investors to support the local and wider UK economy.
Stevenage’s digital economy is essential for the professional and knowledge-based service, science, technical and engineering employee jobs in the area, all of which are reliant on digital technologies. The digital economy is crucial in supporting a number of sectors, some of which are at the forefront of digital innovation and include:
- Advanced manufacturing
- Creative industries and media
- Financial services
- Health and life sciences
Future growth in medtech, agritech and the built environment will be supported by ensuring a strong digital environment to futureproof industries and communities.
Technology and market-based trends and drivers
The ICT ecosystem has advanced and accelerated during the COVID pandemic and continues to be shaped by the following technology, market based trends and drivers:
- Internet of Things (IoT) – with advances in wearables and connected electronics and the Smart Cities agenda in the public realm. The IoT growth is further expected to be driven by B2B applications, with 30bn connected ‘things’ generating huge revenue opportunities.
- Augmented/Virtual Reality (AR/VR) – with commercial and research applications blending real and virtual worlds to develop training scenarios and remote experiences. Interactions with the Internet of Things will allow AR/VR (known as Mixed Reality) to reach wider application and a step-change in workers’ relationships with increasingly automated workplaces, as smart goggles provide metrics provide further support.
- Autonomous Agents – with the rise of autonomous vehicles, including public-road pilots of vehicles such as Waymo by Google in the US, technology that can act by itself, is expected to play increasingly important roles in the economy, with opportunities to develop solutions in the workplace and more social interactions, including social-care.
- Cognitive Computing – highlighting the interrelationships between ICT technologies and the expansion of IoT to provide opportunities in the field of cognitive computing. Big Data and the overlap of multiple data streams will open up further possibilities for AI and other machines to respond to their environment without human intervention.
- Quantum Technologies – with the processing power of supercomputers increasing to address medicine personalised at the genetic level and climate science simulations.
Location to market
Stevenage is located in the Golden Triangle of London, Cambridge and Oxford, all of which support strong and vibrant economies, with strong links to academia and the financial and tech capital.
Strong innovation assets
The Business Technology Centre (btc) in Stevenage provides a strong ecosystem of support to start-up and innovative businesses by providing superb accommodation including; incubator and specialised business support services and access to digital networks to nurture early stage start-ups and innovative businesses supporting high growth.
Support from the centre has been instrumental in showcasing Stevenage as in the top 3 locations for starting a business in the UK.
Centres of Excellence
The University of Hertfordshire is a world-leader and a key contributor to the creative, digital and technology ecosystem, with specialisms in animation, animatronics, computer science and digital media. The University of Herts is ranked 4th globally for research culture and 13th globally (1st in the UK) for top 50 Creative Media & Entertainment Schools and Colleges in 2020 (Rookie Awards). Its animation school, UH Animation, is among the top four in the world. Alumni from the university are actively involved in world-leading games and animation companies and have worked on blockbuster productions such as Harry Potter, Avatar, Prometheus and the GTA series.
Facts and Figures
Stevenage supports a strong trend of IT companies that are particularly strong in computational R&D and digital media, along with specialisms in security and cybercrime.
IT & Telecoms employed 32,100 people in 2015, working in 6,090 enterprises. The number of firms has increased by 5.6% annually since 2010. A total of 6,000 science, research, engineering and technology professionals and associate professionals work in Stevenage.
World Class Global Giants
Home to Fujitsu, the 8th largest IT services provider globally
Stevenage is home to Fujitsu, the 8th largest IT services provider globally, with expertise in innovative information and communications technology and equipment services. It provides digital solutions to business challenges in a number of sectors including: automotive; supporting connected and autonomous vehicle technology, infrastructure & integration skills; to deliver end-to-end automotive IT solutions to increase efficiency, reduce costs & lower environmental impact, smart manufacturing; retail to support the acceleration towards a digital economy, healthcare; to support drug discovery, financial services and a number of digital solutions for transport.
Stevenage is also home to VIAVI (NASDAQ: VIAV) a global provider of network test, monitoring and assurance solutions to communications service providers. VIAVI is a leader in high performance thin film optical coatings and providing a number of solutions to anti-counterfeiting, consumer electronics, automotive, defense and instrumentation markets. VIAVI support pioneering technology in fibre optic testing and measurement to deliver fibre-intensive 5G networks and are a major test bed for the mobile industry.
Highly Innovative and Pioneering Tech economy
Stevenage is also home to a number of innovative tech companies who support a number of IT solutions and services to address business needs and challenges for a number of sectors. Many also provide creative media services to support business growth locally and nationally.
- ServerChoice – supporting world-class colocation services, connectivity and data centre services.
- Bullet Proof – supporting businesses bulletproof their IT infrastructure against cyber attacks.
- Primenet – a global managed services provider, supporting a wide array of IT Solutions including: service desk facilities, cybersecurity, network storage and cloud platform to a large SME market.
- TekOne Technologies Limited – provide managed IT support services, along with cloud service, data service along with hardware and software repairs.
- Cadcorp – support the provision of GIS and web mapping products to a wide array of sectors including emergency services, energy and infrastructure, finance and government agencies.
- LeoTel Software Systems Limited – supports a number of innovative software solutions to a wide range of industries including; mobile handsets and wireless sensor devices; submarine telecommunications; air traffic equipment; aerospace; industrial; electronics and engineering.
- Tier 2 consulting – provide custom software solutions using agile, modern, open-source and cloud-native technology.
- iTrinegy – global provider in software defined test networks.
Esprit Digital – supports unique, digital signage solutions for a number of applications, including indoor screens, outdoor screens, interactive displays, water and video walls.
The business has designed, manufactured and installed a number of iconic digital media networks including: London Underground, Heathrow, Virgin, JCDecaux, Shell, BP, Sony, Gatwick and Westfield.
iTrinegy – a recent winner of the Queens Award for Enterprise and Innovation are a global software provider, supporting businesses in broadcasting; financial services; health care, gaming and defence verify, prototype or test software and devices.
Pearldrop provide video, animation and drone content for an array of sectors as well as internationally prominent brands and major corporations including GSK, Cobham and Fitbit.
Visual Technology Limited designs and installs permanent LED screens and digital displays. Clients and displays include, Wembley Arena, the Video wall at The Odeon, Leicester Square, the bespoke LED perimeter board for Chelsea FC’s Stamford Bridge Stadium and the O2 Arena London.
Creative Industries Economy
The UK’s creative industries support the continual growth of the country’s workforce, adding new posts daily quicker than any other industry. In 2019, the sector was estimated at £115.9bn GVA. This is equivalent to contributing £13.2m every hour. 47% of GVA related to IT, Software and the Games industry, 17.1% to Advertising and marketing and 10.6% to music and Arts. DCMS. Stevenage businesses are huge net contributors to these figures, supporting technologies to support these industries but also products and services in these clusters. The UK creative industries exported £37.9 billion in 2019, nearly 12% of total UK service exports. The sector accounted for 2.1m jobs in 2019, with an estimated two thirds outside of London.
Inspirational, handmade & luxurious
The Stevenage creative industries sector supports a number of clusters locally, from crafts, including inspiring handmade jewellery makers, Hootie Toot Jewellery in the historic High Street to design and fashion houses creating luxury brands including Elissa Poppy whose designs have featured in Asos, GQ and Vogue to name a few and a number of populists. Stevenage supports a wide array of talent in this growing sector. With the desire and need for more sustainability designs, fashion and products in an ever changing climate, we will further see a growing trend supporting further start-ups and activities in these areas.
Niche music offer
Burgeoning artists and the niche music scene in Stevenage Old Town plays nicely to Coda Music who supply both acoustic and electric guitars and accessories for the strumming enthusiast. Stevenage is also home to Revolution Records who supply discerning customers with much sought after vinyl and rarities, along with live music events, with local artists on the line-up. Tucked away and also supporting the old town niche music offer in the heart of Old Town are music rehearsal and recording studios courtesy of The Practice Roomz available to support that emerging talent, complementing the unique and distinctiveness offer of Stevenage.
Space for Artists
Junctions 7 Creatives in the heart of Stevenage town centre offers unique space for local artists and all budding creatives, as well as space for cultural events.