Cornwall is becoming the ‘California of the UK’ after being named as home to one of the highest growth clusters in the tech industry nationwide.

Cornwall’s growing digital community was ranked second in the UK in terms of turnover growth, showing a 153% increase. This was second only to Southampton on 180%, and far exceeding London with 101%.

The 2016 Tech Nation report is produced by the Government-funded programme Tech Nation and innovation charity Nesta, and charts the UK’s digital economy.

Growth in the digital economy is a key focus of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) because of its potential to create high quality, well paid jobs.

Previous investment in broadband has already made Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly one of the best connected regions in Europe and the LEP wants to build on this strength as part of its ‘future economy’ ambitions.

According to the report, the clusters of tech business in places such as Truro, Camborne and Redruth are employing 1,380 staff and contributing £31 million to the local economy every year. The advertised average salary is £34,367, which is almost twice the average salary in Cornwall of £17,340.

The 2016 Tech Nation report was compiled with input from Software Cornwall, a network of local tech businesses with a key objective of improving the visibility and awareness of Cornwall’s tech industries cluster locally and nationally.

The report features local businesses such as Headforwards, Crowdfunder, Sullivan Cuff and Bluefruit Software, as well as Truro & Penwith College and Cornwall College.

Software Cornwall director, Belinda Waldock, said: “A rural location has traditionally been seen as a weakness. Cornwall is dissolving that urban myth, driven by superfast connectivity, a pipeline for delivering tech skills and a strong collaborative community.”

The report also highlights some of the challenges facing the digital sector in Cornwall. A lack of available skills tops the list for 68% of local tech businesses, with close to half saying limited access to finance and low awareness of the sector were other constraints.

Bluefruit director and LEP board member, Paul Massey, said the LEP was working to tackle all these key issues: “Skills are a massive issue for businesses across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly especially in new and emerging growth sectors,” he said.

“That’s why the LEP has been given greater control over local employment and skills funding so that we can make sure businesses are getting the skills they need. Software Cornwall is a good example of how the industry can work with schools and colleges to influence what is taught.”

Click here to read the tech Nation report.

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