Thames Valley tops digital-economy rankings

by Jim Dunton Fri 9 August 2013, 9:44 am

Berkshire is at the forefront of the nation's digital economy, according to new report by the National Institute for Economic and Social Research.

Using data from real-time business tracker Growth Intelligence, the institute has created a map of jobs and growth across the UK.

It said Basingstoke, Reading and Newbury were the nation’s top three areas where digital businesses clustered.

Max Nathan, senior research fellow at the institute, said that the new data suggested that the UK’s digital economy may be 40 per cent bigger than government figures indicated.

He said the alternative calculation method allowed companies to be classified in a more detailed way than the government’s preferred “SIC code” system, which failed to identify some firms - such as software companies working in traditional sectors, such as architecture, publishing and engineering - as "digital" businesses.

“Policymakers have identified the digital economy as one of the UK’s key economic strengths,” he said.

“That means they need to be aware of the true numbers of digital businesses around the country.

“The old image of tech businesses as start-ups that make no money is out of date too: using big data we show a broad array of active businesses selling digital products and services.”

Gareth Davies, director and technology, media and telecommunications specialist at BDO in Reading, said it was important for the government’s classification systems to capture the true scale of the sector.

“The Thames Valley is rich in creative enterprise,” she said.

“We must support the dynamic and evolving creative industries, which in many ways epitomises the entrepreneurial culture of our region.

“Known to many as the Silicon Valley of Europe, we live and work in a world class business location, with huge specialisms in digital, tech and media innovation.

“The creative industries contribute approximately 10 per cent of the industrial base of the Thames Valley, and if the sector is set to continue to play an even bigger role in the local and national economy, it needs to be nurtured and championed by government.”

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