Reading has the potential to be the UK’s top entrepreneurial hotspot providing it embraces digital technology, according to a report.
More effective use of digital technology by start-ups and scale-ups could boost the UK economy by as much as £34bn a year by 2030, says tech firm Atos.
Brighton, Cambridge, Cheltenham and Oxford were the other hotspots in the top five with the most to benefit from embracing technology.
The consultancy has mapped the entrepreneurial potential of towns and cities for the first time.
Reading ranked top partly because over half of its population has gone into higher education; the high number of start-ups and existing business in the area, including 11,000 digital and tech firms; and an ethnically diverse population, which helps drive entrepreneurship.
“Digital technology is critical to unleashing the full entrepreneurial potential of the SMEs, start-ups and scale-ups in our towns and cities,” says the report. “Better use of digital technology can help entrepreneurs in all industries because while not every start-up business is in the tech sector, every start-up needs to embrace digital technology in order to compete.”
Atos makes three recommendations if policymakers want to help British towns and cities embrace the digital economy:
#1 – Focus local business support on tech
For example, ensuring Local Enterprise Partnerships help start-ups to maintain and grow their online presence, better use of cloud computing and digitise back-office functions such as payroll.
#2 – Create digital enterprise zones
Areas within towns and cities that could be testbeds for early adoption of future digital technology such as 5G mobile networks and full-fibre broadband.
#3 – Create Enterprise Accounts
A digital platform, similar to the Pensions Dashboard, which would provide one place for local entrepreneurs on where to find mentors, finance options, accountancy and legal advice as well as the tax implications of setting up a business.