AN AMBITIOUS bid to style Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch as a “Silicon Beach” with a thriving creative and digital economy has been outlined.
Leading businesses, entrepreneurs and MPs are all backing the bid to grow the local creative and digital sector in the hope the area can eventually rival California’s Silicon Valley or Berlin, which attracts companies and talented workers from all over Europe.
At a creative and digital economy summit held at Bournemouth University’s Executive Business Centre on Friday, a host of different businesses and organisations pledged to commit money or expertise to the bid to boost Bournemouth’s reputation both in this country and abroad.
The area is seen as a potential “Silicon Beach” because it boasts above average business start-up and survival rates and it is one of the UK’s liveliest digital media clusters, with Bournemouth University and the Arts University College of Bournemouth both attracting talented students. However, currently many talented students leave the area after graduating.
Tobias Ellwood, Bournemouth East MP, said: “The creative and digital economy accounts for eight per cent of our GDP already and that figure is growing by 14 per cent a year. This is the big growth business, it’s the thing to be in.
“Half of the techies who worked on Avatar came from Bournemouth University but what do they do when they graduate? They do a runner to Berlin and other places.”
And Conor Burns, the MP for Bournemouth West, said: “We have an enormous opportunity here in Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch to bring a large amount of business to this conurbation.
“We have a very simple offering in this part of the world – it’s a fantastic place to live and work. If Berlin can persuade people to come and do business there then Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch certainly can.”
SOME OF THE MANIFESTO COMMITMENTS
Ashley Faull, of 2Kings, will commit £2million of asset lending to the creative and digital sector locally.
Bournemouth and Poole College will launch an apprenticeship scheme for this sector.
Bournemouth University will commit around £40,000 to support a range of work to boost the sector locally. A key element of this will be supporting the working group established to take forward the manifesto vision.
Bournemouth Borough Council will launch the Community Finance Initiative which aims to assist small businesses and first-time home buyers. It will also develop a cultural and digital industries hub at the former BCCA building in Boscombe.
The Borough of Poole and Dorset County Council, with Arts University Bournemouth and Bournemouth University, will produce a feasibility study of the old police station opposite Poole Civic Centre.