In the digital Driving seat: A year sat in the fast lane

Posted: 06/01/2023

In 2022, we helped to connect our island community of coders, creators, inventors and investors to build Jersey’s digital future together.

We’ve unlocked substantial funding for local entrepreneurs and incubated exciting new start-ups in our Digital Jersey Hub. We’ve also helped Island businesses harness technology to remain competitive.

When we talk about digital business, we don’t just mean ‘unicorn’ start-ups or big tech companies. Technology is now integral to every business. It’s changing the way Islanders bank, farm, shop and interact.

That is why Digital Jersey’s mission is to harness technology to transform our Island economy, creating digital capital and opportunities. I never cease to be amazed by the sheer wealth of talented creators, founders and tech visionaries we have in the Island.

We are building a digital society in one of the most enviable and frictionless places to do business in the world. With some of the fastest connectivity on the planet, a business-friendly government, easy travel links to the UK and Europe, and a growing digitally skilled population, Jersey is swiftly becoming a global force to be reckoned with.

Riding the wave

Our biggest vision for last year was to set up our Technology Accelerator Programme. This bold new initiative was created in collaboration with NESTA to fund tech projects that address the biggest challenges that we face as an island.

There are many obstacles ahead for Jersey, from climate change to AI automation, but TAP presents a way to use our brightest minds to build a ‘smart island’ to ride the waves of digital innovation.

From micro-chips to chips

TAP is more than just a think tank. It is a programme that does indeed tap into Islanders’ ingenuity. We can’t wait to see all they come up with.

This is not about moonshot initiatives in the distant future; it’s about tangible solutions that deliver for our economy today. It could be harnessed to support our farming industry through innovative projects like Smart Fields, which we launched this year, which uses soil sensors and drones to predict weather patterns and improve yields for Jersey farmers.

Levelling up

Digital transformation isn’t just driving new technologies, but entirely new jobs and industries. Ten years ago, who imagined you could make a living as a drone operator or an e-sports coach? That’s why it is vital that we continue to invest in upgrading the digital skills of Islanders.

The tech leaders of tomorrow are currently studying at our Digital Jersey Academy. Last year we worked with Highlands College and the Economic Recovery Fund to offer 83 courses to more than 1,000 Islanders of all ages to give them the digital skills they will need.

We also worked with the University of Exeter to refresh our Digital Skills Strategy, as well as supporting Jersey’s Education Department in developing a new Digital Education Strategy. Both strategies make a number of key recommendations and highlight the importance of joined-up thinking to support lifelong digital learning.

Sowing seeds

It is the daring entrepreneurs and innovative start-ups who make exciting things happen. That’s why Digital Jersey gives so much support to these ‘disruptors’. In 2022 alone, we have introduced more than 20 businesses to investors and connected 30 people with seasoned digital entrepreneurs.

Our regular ‘Springboard’ clinics at the DJ Hub give innovators a chance to talk through their business ideas and funding plans with seasoned industry experts.

We are also very excited about our new Tech Start-up Bootcamp, in collaboration with JT, PwC, and TEKEX. We had 39 applicants for five places, shortlisted 12 and, in fact, will be finding a way to support all 12 next year.

Starting this month, the programme includes workshops covering everything from prototype development and industry mapping to pitching and team building. The programme will also offer experienced mentors to support new entrepreneurs.

To infinity…

At Digital Jersey, we believe the Island needs to embrace the future. But we also have the chance to create it. Thanks to Jersey, self-flying planes are about to land in the real world.

In 2022, we announced with Ports of Jersey that the Island would be a testbed for a £3.7m project that could lead the way for autonomous drone flights.

These aircraft could transport medical supplies, commercial cargo – and maybe even passengers.

Knowing that Jersey has been chosen as the testbed for this was the best Christmas present we could have wished for. We look forward to telling you more later in the year.

Digital Jersey continues to help established local digital businesses too. In association with Jersey Finance, we will soon launch ProMatch, a procurement portal to link finance firms looking for tech solutions with local suppliers.

Also on our 2023 calendar is a world first – a pilot project centred around a ‘data trust’ established under Jersey Trust Law. This would make Jersey a place where businesses and individuals could know their data are safe. No other location or organisation in the world has successfully set up a legal trust structure specifically to hold data in this way.

What’s next?

We are not the innovators or architects of our future digital society. You are.

That’s why we established the annual TechAwards. Our biggest ever TechAwards in April will celebrate the success of our island’s digital talent in every area from leadership, to sustainability and promising start-ups.

Through our many projects and initiatives, we will continue to drive the Island’s digital economy. But the future of our digital society will be driven by people, not just technology.

We will continue to nurture, grow and support our digital community so that every Islander can unlock the exciting potential of digital technology and share in its wealth and opportunities.

The future is digital and Jersey is its launchpad.

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