I’m very excited about the announcement of a Barclays Eagle Lab opening at the Jersey Library in October. Getting to this point shows what can be achieved when the right people and companies join forces to build opportunities for our island.
It was during a meeting with the local Barclays team, their UK innovation team and Assistant Chief Minister Senator Philip Ozouf, among others, that a light bulb went off. At the meeting, Barclays talked of spaces they were developing in the UK where anyone local, from entrepreneurs to students, could go to explore their creative tech-based ideas. They mentioned how the dynamic spaces, called ‘Eagle Labs’, offered expert mentoring, event areas and maker spaces to provide these enthusiasts with the tools they need to grow.
Building from The Digital Hub’s great success in providing resources for the tech community, it became clear that an equally well-resourced space was needed to offer the broader business and general community a place to evolve their tech-related projects. Having knowledge that the Library was already keen to build a ‘maker space’, and had the required area but not necessarily the funding, it seemed as though an Eagle Lab could be the ideal solution.
With the support of Senator Ozouf, we engaged with both the local Barclays team and the Library to develop a business case for Barclays UK to set up a lab in St Helier. We also got the personal support of our Chief Minister which we were able to incorporate in our ‘bid’ that was successfully approved by Barclays HQ – much to the excitement of all involved!
The collaborative effort by Digital Jersey, Ed Jewell and his team at the library, the Chief Minister’s Office, Barclays and the Education Department, is a real testament to Jersey’s ambition to become digitally enabled. Not only will this provide a positive space for locals to innovate, but it also shows that the wider community now has a digital agenda that flows through a number of businesses and government departments.
The most powerful outcome for me though, is that for the first time Jersey is ‘on the list’ for an initiative like this, along with the ‘usual suspects’ of Birmingham, Brighton, Cambridge, etc. Our involvement with Barclays is a reflection of Jersey’s digital aspirations and it is rewarding to see Jersey gaining well-deserved recognition.