Metro mayors' tech credentials: Andy Street
During his first 100 days as West Midlands mayor, Andy Street has set out his stall on digital technology.
The former managing director of John Lewis announced plans to take a group of tech business representatives to Toronto to learn from the tech scene there, while a trip to Silicon Valley was on the horizon.
Street has pledged to do all he can to attract a major global tech company to invest in the Midlands. His spokesman told BusinessCloud that there had already been meetings with big investors, the most important one being Channel Four – largely defined as a digital business.
His other priorities include making sure every business and household has access to superfast broadband and using the transport and planning powers he has as mayor to speed up the roll-out of high-speed fibre infrastructure.
He intends to push for the area to get its fair share of the £1bn of new government funding committed to digital infrastructure to roll out fibre and trial 5G technology.
The technology and creative sector accounts for 72,000 jobs in the West Midlands, with another 29,000 jobs expected by 2030. Employers include online shopping store ASOS and games developer Codemasters, which makes the official video games of Formula One.
The area has business clusters in the Custard Factory and STEAMhouse in Digbeth, the Knowledge Quarter in Coventry and the Lighthouse complex in Wolverhampton, which Street says he will continue to support and help grow.
He also aims to co-sponsor technology accelerators with large businesses to develop new spin-off start-up ventures in their industries, for example an automotive start-up accelerator with Jaguar Land Rover.
Digital skills are high on his agenda, and he intends to create a Mayor’s Digital Skills Institute with responsibility for leading digital training efforts so young people finish education with the skills companies want.
Other aims include attracting globally recognised tech conferences to hold their events in the West Midlands, bringing more tech and creative start-ups to the region and working with banks, venture capital firms and other investors to make it easier for start-up entrepreneurs to access the cash they need.
On Monday we featured the digital plans of Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham.
On Tuesday we highlighted the challenges faced by Cambridgeshire and Peterborough mayor James Palmer.
Mayor: Andy Street
Digital jobs: 36,802
Digital GVA: £1.4bn
Tech turnover growth: 33pc
Average advertised digital salary: 43,718
Tech employers: Vanti, Advanced Computing Software, Deutsche Bank
Famous for: Its history in the automotive industry means there is a skilled workforce to support new technologies such as drones and intelligent buildings. Eighteen universities are within an hour’s drive from Birmingham and 6,016 people moved to the city from London during 2015, more than to any other UK city.
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