Digital Leaders is a nationwide initiative to drive digital innovation and knowledge across the UK. The initiative has been split into regions, with the South West region being my nearest. They hold meetings called Salons on a regular basis offering a chance for local businesses in those regions to explore ideas and get up dates on their local digital economy.
I’d heard of Digital Leaders as a concept but not engaged with anything locally. Until last week that was. I attended an event organised by Bournemouth Borough Council and Matt Desire and hosted at EIMS.
Whilst the focus of the event was to help Bournemouth BC drive a digital leaders agenda for the South West and to ask local businesses about threats and opportunities (I raised cyber security as both a threat and opportunity) and to use this feedback to drive the local digital agenda, there was actually a very useful update on what has actually happened in the Bournemouth area which I thought was interesting enough to share. We also heard about how other cities, globally, are driving their digital agenda (such as the Amsterdam Smart City project).
For Bournemouth the digital leaders journey started two years ago when Bournemouth BC wrote a Digital Challenge document. Since then the following have been achieved:
- Free local Wifi was launched in public spaces
- Bournemouth was included in the broadband connection voucher scheme
- Code club was launched (in conjunction with JP Morgan)
- An open data portal was launched with civic hack events leading to interesting use of local data (apps, infographics, etc.)
- Meetjobs for digital jobs
- Silicon Beach digital conferences (which have gone international and linked with other Silicon Beach events around the world)
- Re:develop conference for developers
- Digital Wave for young people
- BFX Animation Festival
- Bournemouth voted Digital Council of the year 2015
It’s also led to the Council having it’s own digital economic development officer as well as other development projects in the area.
I think you’ll agree that actually a lot has been achieved in Bournemouth which continues to grow and be respected as a digital hub in the UK and perhaps we’ve either not realised just how good we are locally with our digital economy or they achievements have not been shouted about as much as they ought to have been.
It’s quite easy to take this strategy for granted and that’s why with this latest Salon the focus is shifting away from digital business to all businesses being digital and the challenge continues into the future.