Figures from Tech Nation's 2018 report show just how important the Thames Valley is to the UK's economy. In particular, is the amount it contributes to productivity - some £7bn Gross Value Add (GVA). That's probably explained by the fact that the 42,398 tech employees in the region generate £234,000 in turnover per employee. That's quite a substantial contribution.
Looking across the 30 hubs nationally, Newbury, where we are based, was ranked 2nd in terms of the productivity of local tech ecosystems (£304k), closely followed by Slough and Heathrow at 4th (£240k) and Reading at 7th (£234k).
There are of course some specific reasons why the Thames Valley makes good business sense.
- The big one is property prices. Whether you're a business that's multinational or starting up there are no two ways about it: London is expensive. Reading, and surrounding areas, isn't in comparison.
- Capitalising on this truism, policy makers have invested hard. The new Gateway building, owned by Reading University, forms a flagship for the £35m investment in the Thames Valley Science Park. Such investment in the area has attracted international brands, cancer research teams through to academics and is really focused on not just trading proving a hub for collaboration, but one for R&D, which is fundamental to growth and competing against the likes of Silicon Valley. Without innovation in IoT, AR, AI, biosciences and beyond the UK can't compete with other major continents.
- That may explain why Heathrow and Slough saw the highest number of start-ups incorporated. It's shrewd - entrepreneurs know there is no point setting up in an area where they won't have access to skills and knowledge. Plus the larger companies have pioneered the way. No need to reinvent things if you don't need to, leaving you time to reinvent the real killer apps.
- And then of course there's house prices. The average price of a home in London is in excess of £650,000. And even if prices are receding a bit, it's not enough for the average family to afford. Reading, Newbury, Slough, Maidenhead, Bracknell, Wokingham and surrounding areas all make financial sense. Plus they are supported by good schools, regeneration schemes to improve high streets, and open space and Green Belts.
- Talking of open space, it's ripe for new technologies like drones, which will change how we live and connect as communities. It's believed that Altitude Angel set up base in Reading because of the proximity to the ingredients you need as a start up (skill, property, connections) and the open space it has to test drones in.
- The area is also well connected - Heathrow expansion and multi-million-pound upgrades of the rail network are now evident. The Demos-PwC Good Growth Index further highlights this, with Reading sitting second behind Oxford for most improved city noting transport as an indicator of success.
- Companies are also switching on to the impact of the commute and the tax breaks from providing greener options. You don't have to contend with rail delays into London and chaos on the tubes that cause employees stress and eats up productivity. Instead take advantage of a leafy walk to work, join a cycle scheme, or take a company paid for eco bus and you can get to work without the hassle, the expense and be more effective when you get there.
- This all adds up to an attractive package for someone who is highly skilled looking for corporate careers or start-up experiences. It's a win-win - skills for companies that want to grow and jobs for skilled people in an environment you want to live your life and raise a family in.
- There are actually 58,109 people employed in the the tech sector in the Thames Valley. That means there are around 16,000 people involved in non-tech skill but essential for the sector to function - HR, PR, finance, property management, customer service, retail... the list goes on. Skill breeding skill.
Marketing and PR excellence is why we exist in the Thames Valley
It's this diversity and richness in technology - from established telco networks, cyber security experts, to burgeoning IoT and big data specialists - that makes the Thames Valley an exciting place to be as a creative serving the industry. It gives us scope to deliver best in class integrated inbound marketing and PR campaigns using our collective experience of working in house and in agency, without wasting our time on a commute to London. Our energy is better placed elsewhere - where it matters. On your business.
We know what makes a campaign special, the fundamental basics that must underpin it. And like every other ambitious business in the Valley we know our success is your success. Together we can continue to keep the crown of being the UK's answer to Silicon Valley firmly set.