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The 100 days that changed Jersey, by James Linder

Posted: Thursday 18 June 2020

It’s something quite extraordinary to consider how much has changed in such a short space of time for so many people. Here in Jersey, the first case of coronavirus was discovered just 100 days ago this week.

But a health emergency is now giving way to an economic emergency, and Digital Jersey intends to play its part in returning the island’s fortunes to not just where they were pre-pandemic, but rather to seize this opportunity to create a digital step change that benefits everybody.

With input from our members, we’ve created a dossier of recommendations for the economic renewal of Jersey that we have presented to the Chief Minister for the Government’s consideration.

In broad terms, it focuses on talent and skills, entrepreneurship, and digital transformation.

Having considered carefully the views we received, coupled with our existing knowledge of our strengths and weaknesses, it is apparent Jersey cannot compete in the global digital economy on cost, but can excel with a focus on human capital, innovation and the presence of sophisticated businesses.

Some of our ideas are relatively cheap and easy to do, others will require significant investment and ambition. All are designed to be deliverable within 12 to 24 months, and their impact could be profound.

Our key recommendations are five-fold:

  • We can accelerate the digital transformation of Jersey by incentivising investment in tech through productivity support grants and/or enhanced capital allowances.
  • We can grow skills and talent by investing in a specialist higher education Digital Campus.
  • Grants and/or tax relief could incentivise local employees undertaking training to be redeployed elsewhere in the workforce.
  • A foreign direct investment strategy could fire up entrepreneurship by offering grants for company relocations.
  • And we can improve access to capital by introducing investor reliefs against loss, dividend and income from local investment.

These plans are not sector specific as Digital Jersey has always believed digital transformation is for the whole economy’s benefit. To that end we would like to see the creation of a Digital Development Team, led by Digital Jersey, which includes representatives of both Government and industry.

Right now, Jersey has an opportunity to exploit the attractiveness of its low, broad and simple tax policy, and – as ways of working have been transformed overnight – capitalise on the benefits of digital being a mobile sector.

Competition to attract such organisations and businesses is about to increase.

Jersey is a safe island with a high standard of living and abundance of natural beauty, combined with an international workforce that speaks the global language of tech – English. We have world-leading digital infrastructure, and we are just a short flight from London.

It means the opportunity is ripe and the time is right.

If we look back 100 days and consider how much has changed, fast-forward 100 days and beyond to consider the opportunity that Digital Jersey is ready to grasp.

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