techUK launches local digital capital framework

The UK’s leading technology trade association has launched a new framework to assess the digital tech sector across different regions.

The Local Digital Capital index was created by techUK in response to a consultation with the wider tech industry in March 2021, to measure the depth of local digital capital in each region in the UK for the purpose of the ‘levelling-up agenda.’

The index measures eight components including digital infrastructure, digital skills, digital adoption, data ecosystems, research and innovation, finance and investment, trade support, and collaboration and cooperation.

The framework aims to identify each region of the UK’s strengths and support policy and decision makers in their investment in digital economies.

In its results, the index identifies the strength of London and the South East in the digital tech sector, but also shows reasons for other nations and regions to be optimistic, with strong findings in the West Midlands, North Ireland and the South West.

But techUK warned that there is still much to do if the UK is serious about having a strong digital sector across the whole of the UK.

The association listed a series of recommendations to improve the national tech ecosystem:
• Build location-specific data on the strength of local data ecosystems;
• Establish a Chief Digital Officer forum at a national level;
• Continue to measure progress through further iterations of the Local Digital Capital index;
• Deepen the understanding across the sector of where and how collaboration can support growth;
• Embed the Local Digital Capital Index into the digital strategies of decision makers with a commitment to furthering Local Digital Capital in their locality;
• Embed digital job growth in the post-COVID-19 recovery when considering levelling-up across the UK, especially in regions such as Yorkshire and Humber and Wales.

“Our work identified a strong desire for a tech-savvy United Kingdom where all nations and regions can participate in, and benefit from, a rapidly digitising global economy,” said Julian David, chief executive, techUK. “However, what we lacked was an ability to measure the impact of digital technology on a specific locality. Our Local Digital Capital index seeks to remedy that.

“The index is not about playing one region off against another. It is a tool that we want local areas to be able to use to understand their own strengths, where they need to reinforce and where best practice can be found. At the same time, we want this to be a tool for national policymakers, and a way of making the case for investing in regional digital economies as a part of the Levelling Up agenda.”

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