It’s that time of year again; when you realise that half the year is nearly done, the summer is here, and yet January feels like it was mere weeks ago. And as ever, there is still so much to do to achieve our goals for Digital Jersey. That said, we’ve done pretty well so far in 2017. So before we all really begin to enjoy the sunshine, I wanted to share with you a brief summary of our progress and also recap what we are hoping to achieve before the end of the year.
Firstly, we’ve improved the Hub’s important role as a space for the tech community. At the beginning of the year we increased our permanent desk capacity from 12 to 26 and we have already filled most of them, enabling us to support a lot more local entrepreneurs start businesses, meet likeminded people and…we hope… to outgrow the Hub and find new premises, just as many did during 2016. We have also now signed up over 260 tech members meaning that altogether the Hub is now a real hive of activity for the local digital sector.
Last year we created a Digital Skills Zone to develop skills and share knowledge, and had over 2600 attendees across 100+ seminars. Now if you come to the Hub on any particular day, as well as seeing local businesses and individuals working there on their own ideas, you will see the Skills Zone and meeting rooms full of teams working on projects ranging from integrating the hospital and GP IT systems, infrastructure projects such as IoT sensors, working with off island testbed partners or a variety of Government projects. We’ve had a lot of off island visitors recently who have been surprised at the level of activity going on in Jersey. This sort of collaboration is what is going to make us strong and make Jersey truly digital.
Last year we committed ourselves to listen to industry’s concerns and to overcome barriers – such as getting work Licences or Visas to bring in off-island expertise, when it can’t be found locally. I’m very happy to say we’re starting to see results; we’ve worked with the Population Office since mid-2016 to endorse 39 new high paying jobs, exceeding even the finance industry average salary. The so-what factor is the tax-take of these jobs alone, bringing in an estimated tax-liability of £365,000 each year. Importantly, we also estimate that as these highly skilled workers build new teams and train local workers, they will create a further 58 potential new local jobs.
Working with Jersey Business we have launched an interactive How to Find Funding guide, to help you find the business funding you are looking for. We have also been working again with Jersey Business and with Government to look at how the remaining JIF funds can be used to better support start-up businesses in Jersey and hope we can announce something soon on that front. Other initiatives to support start-ups here include working with Social Security to ensure that small business contributions are not a barrier to these companies.
Following our solution to the long running problem of Apple ID not recognising Jersey post-codes, we have also been working with Google to enable Android users to access the UK Google Play store so watch this space.
Our work in Health has grown leaps and bounds this year and I can honestly say our Digital Health Strategy is the best piece of technology related work that either Digital Jersey or the States of Jersey have yet produced. The outcomes will improve health services to islanders and provide commercial opportunities to local businesses as well as saving the Government money through running a more efficient healthcare system. The trick is to move quickly from strategy to implementation so I’m pleased to see that that has already kicked off with DJ, SoJ, off island healthcare system suppliers like EMIS & InterSystems and local IT companies already working on the integration of GP & Hospital systems to enable online access to records, test results, etc.
In the fintech sector, with Jersey Finance, SoJ and the JFSC we have been analysing opportunities in Wealth Management, Regulatory Technology and Blockchain. We have also supported the regulator to gain industry engagement with RegTech solution that allows finance firms in Jersey to automatically transfer over 300,000 Beneficial Ownership records at a time, directly into the regulators’ system. We’re seeing a win-win in not only solving a major finance industry problem but creating product development opportunities for local companies and have already seen a few start-ups spring up in this area. We have also been working closely with Jersey Finance and McKinsey to look at the threats and opportunities of technology for our Finance Sector.
Our Internet of Things work finished 2016 with a great result, with JT committing to build an island wide IoT network based on LoRaWAN technology. We now have a Smart Island strategy we should be launching soon, are working on a really exciting IoT Lab project to support local and off island projects and businesses, and even looking at the possibility of installing townwide wifi in St Helier.
Building on the analysis by Digital Jersey in 2016, the States of Jersey Statistics Unit, with our ongoing support, has now taken on the mantle of measuring future employment in the sector. This has resulted in useful changes in the way that we measure digital employment data, which from November will be published alongside that of financial services, construction, etc. We will also shortly be releasing the latest digital employment figures, providing more insight into the Jersey changing digital sector and evolving economy and how we are growing.
Making Jersey Better
If you have read any of the recent news coverage you will know that our role as a facilitator and trusted adviser across government and the private sector is something I feel strongly about. If you did a stop motion time-lapse film of the Hub over the last six months you would have seen so much activity from techies, fintech enthusiasts, regulators, teachers, students, telecoms staff, Health experts, eGov teams, Estonian digital experts, small businesses and more, all working together to solve problems in Jersey. It is this ability to easily bring together key people quickly in the same space that we can exploit as a key strength in a complicated world.
The Next 6 Months
The next six months we have an equally busy schedule. We have recently welcomed a new chair in the form of Frank Walker. While we are sad to see the departure of Paul Masterton, I am grateful that Frank has decided to join at this stage in our development. Frank in fact chaired the initial working group that was to become Digital Jersey, during which time he earned the respect and cooperation of our entire industry. Equally at a time when Jersey is facing many challenges which will impact the digital economy, from skills shortages, to egov and the potential changes that BREXIT will bring, Frank’s political experience will be invaluable to us.
Other work we will be undertaking for the second half of this year includes….
- Funding start-ups – Working with government, Jersey Business and the Chamber of Commerce to launch a new service to plug the gap left by the Jersey Innovation Fund to help start-ups get investor ready.
- Developing our digital skills – Addressing the digital skills gap by working with the Education Department to introduce Degree Level Apprenticeships in the digital sector and develop an Advanced Digital Skills strategy for Jersey.
- Social Security – Bring to a conclusion our work to address some of the challenges faced by digital businesses with Social Security contributions, creating a fairer system that embraces contemporary work patterns, for example where workers may have more than one employer.
- Smart Island – Marketing Jersey as a world-class hub for tech innovation, attracting leading tech companies to the Island and sharing our vision with the international community.
- Fintech – Working closely with Jersey Finance to develop a new fintech strategy focused on how we can stay ahead of the curve through digital disruption and tech innovation, and how we can capitalise on the opportunities presented by Brexit.
- Digital Health – Digital Jersey has established the Health and Care Technology Group. This will now be focused on building the supplier hub, working to integrate tech and inject startups into the health system, and giving them space to expand internationally and attract inward investment.
Anyway, that’s enough from me for now! I hope everyone has a good summer break before we come back ready for the exciting projects we have planned in the second half of 2017.