Following on from ‘defining digital’, looking at the data I was surprised, as I’m sure others will also be, to learn just how significant foreign investment has been in developing our digital sector. Which led me to wonder, what specifically is it about the jurisdiction that digital businesses find attractive?
As of early 2016 there were 40 active digital businesses which had relocated to Jersey, employing 212 staff. Between June 2010 and 2016 net-employment attributed to these businesses grew by 175 positions, accounting for 30% of overall employment growth in the digital sector. These businesses have played a crucial role in enabling our emerging digital industry, with six of Jersey’s top 40 fastest growing digital businesses having relocated to the island.
With these figures in mind, understanding what drew these businesses to Jersey – aside from the usual factors of a business-friendly environment, tax neutrality, fibre connectivity etc – would allow us to promote key strengths and encourage further relocators to add value to our digital economy. It was found that common factors include Jersey’s central time zone; proximity to key decision makers; the pursuit of a better work-life balance; and interestingly, the ability to build a pan-island digital service between Guernsey and Jersey.
So having dispelled the general perception that Jersey has a weak track record in attracting digital businesses, and with insight into their attraction to our island, what impact will this have on Digital Jersey’s activities? Moving forward we look to refine our approach to inward investment by better targeting selected sub-sectors and capitalising on our relationship with tech agencies in the UK. We also aim to promote The Digital Hub as a platform from which inward investors can launch their Jersey businesses as well as address any potential barriers to those looking to relocate.
With the potential of employment opportunities created by current and future relocators, alongside our refocused approach to attracting further inward investment, it looks like foreign investment’s value to our economy is only going to grow!