At the half year point, Digital Jersey is on track to meet its targets and can report good progress with our 3 work streams.
So far this year the digital sector has seen steady growth for established companies and new startups, including both on-island new ventures and inward investment. Our CRM reporting indicates that over 100 new positions have been created to date, with 250 in our pipeline of development opportunities. Exciting new companies are starting up across a wide range of sectors and services as shown below, with an increasingly healthy outlook for the sector overall. The ‘digital sector’ is increasingly hard to define with technology becoming ‘mission critical’ to all businesses and sectors. We are working in collaboration with government to develop effective measures in response to this, so we can continue to demonstrate the value of digital growth to Jersey. Our data sets do not yet capture all activity but already demonstrate the growth that is being achieved.
While our focus on developing an effective digital ecosystem in Jersey aims to create conditions for all digital businesses to thrive, we are especially focussed on the key sectors of Fintech, MedTech/eHealth and Data Analytics, while also supporting opportunities in eCommerce and Tourism – all areas critical to the future of the island.
Collaboration between Digital Jersey, Jersey Finance, the JFSC and government is well under way to establish a coordinated approach and ensure Jersey has an effective ‘Fintech agenda’. This has already resulted in a consultation on digital currencies, with the working group also taking a look at other developing areas, such as crowdsourcing. Digital Jersey was excited to support the launch of New Finance, an international Fintech community with chapters in London, New York, Paris and further afield. With over 5000 members worldwide, New Finance offers an exciting new network for the Island. The next New Finance meet-up is at the Hub, September 15th, and will look at crowdfunding.
Given the increasing global demand and competition for talent, long-term success means Jersey must increasingly ‘grow’ our own skills base, which requires more targeted skills programmes such as the Digital Jersey Coding Programme. The second 6 month intake is underway, with 14 students qualifying from a variety of backgrounds. A new Network Skills Programme starts shortly, with 2 more covering Project Management and Data Analysis, on the launch pad.
We’re keeping current with the skills that industry is looking for (both today and on the horizon) and working with trainers and skills providers to develop courses to meet these needs, supporting them through the start-up phase and then, ideally, seeing them become a commercial offering.
Complementing this is our work to develop ideal ‘hire’ profiles at 16, 18 and post-university, identifying what companies are looking for in the ideal candidate, including education, technical skills, personal skills and experience.
For the longer view we continue to collaborate with Education on schools programmes and are excited about the launch this September of the Business and Vocational Enterprise Course. This programme, a first for Jersey, has been developed by Grainville Headmaster John McGuiness and leads to a VCert qualification. The 2 year course, for 14-16 year olds, is led and curated by a course facilitator but the teaching element relies heavily on business leaders giving their time in both a formal learning environment and as mentors. The knowledge, skills and experience of business leaders will make a vital contribution to the programme. As part of this, participants will receive a small amount of seed funding to start a business.
Population Office Support
While we accelerate development programmes, we remain reliant on importing needed skills and capabilities. While this can be challenging, Digital Jersey is here to assist with licence applications for existing and startup companies. In this respect, the sector is being very well supported by the Population Office. In line with this, later this year we are launching an intern programme, again with the support of the Population Office, to facilitate internships for UK university students with local technology companies.
Digital Jersey continues to deliver exciting and informative events and workshops, with highlights so far including an excellent eHealth day looking at trends, challenges and opportunities for Jersey in this fast moving sector. We were delighted to welcome Samsung UK who view Jersey as an excellent ‘test bed’ for services and products in this sector – a concept that we are developing as a USP for the Island. Looking forward, the second half calendar is equally busy, including a Fintech conference in October and a Techfair in November– click here for upcoming events.
Finally, we were delighted to see Jersey teams do brilliantly well in the Technovation challenge, a global competition for female students to develop a digital business. With an age range of 11-16, 4 Jersey teams participated, with Team Hydra from Jersey Coders going on to win the UK regionals.
Also looking forward, we continue to develop iStart, Jersey’s first true incubator programme, aimed at stimulating more startups here. Modelled on the UK Sirius programme, iStart is scheduled for launch later this year. Progress on this and our other objectives can be seen in our RAG Report attached below.