BOURNEMOUTH’S digital sector is worth more than £340million a year in turnover and employs more than 7,500 people, a report suggests.

The figures come in the latest Tech Nation study, which says the tech sector is expanding 2.6 times faster than the rest of the UK economy.

Bournemouth’s 7,546 digital jobs generate £88,000 in turnover per employee.

The report calls the town an “established visual effects and animation hub”, with the annual BFX Festival celebrating animation, games and effects. It notes that Arts University Bournemouth (AUB) is to open its Innovation Studio to support creative and digital start-ups next year.

And it says cyber security is strong in the area, which is home to the UK headquarters of a leading antivirus provider, ESET.

The report adds: “The startup community is gathering pace in cyber security, with the support of Bournemouth University and the Dorset Cyber Alliance.”

It also notes that AUB is developing new ways of working with the creative and digital industries, with some of its students embedded with visual effects studio Outpost VFX.

Silicon South is running an EU-funded project providing support for digital small and medium sized enterprises, while Bournemouth University has set up a computer emergency response team, offering threat intelligence to 20,000 staff and students.

Asked who was influential in their community, start-ups named Matt Desmier, managing director of the consultancy Wise Old Uncle and founder of the Silicon Beach conference.

“From what I’ve seen of other clusters, what’s unique about Bournemouth is the sense of community,” he said.

“There’s an above average level of camaraderie and inclusivity, especially for such a relatively small population. The town definitely punches well above its weight in that respect.”

The report quotes Mike Hawkyard, managing director of video game company Amuzo, saying: “Bournemouth is a stunning location to work, rest and play. Beautiful beaches, great weather and a highly deserve community fuelled by tourism, strong economic growth and excellent educational facilities.”

Tara Flynn, managing director of financial technology firm Ratio, says: “As well as the amazing countryside and coastline, the laid-back lifestyle and the incredible talent pool fuelled by two universities, Bournemouth has an active community of creative businesses who collaborate and support each other, making it a unique environment for start-ups.”

Tech Nation is the latest incarnation of the study that found in 2015 that Bournemouth and Poole had the fastest-growing digital economy in the country.

Nationally, the study found that the turnover of digital tech companies grew 4.5 per cent in 2016-17, compared with a 1.7 per cent growth in the nation’s gross domestic project.

It found digital workforce is older than is often perceived, with 72 per cent of tech workers over the age of 35. Fifteen per cent of staff in the sector are from black and ethnic minority backgrounds, compared with 10 per cent nationally.

But it still employs many more men than women, with only 19 per cent of its workforce female.