Richard Gregory, Head of Tech North, has just stepped off stage at the Institute of Directors’ annual conference in Manchester where he gave a keynote speech on the theme of ‘disruption’. Learn more about him and his work…
DG: Just how big is the North’s digital economy?
RG: Right now, the region’s tech businesses contribute to £9.9bn GVA, creating jobs at 10 times the rate of the region’s non-digital sectors – it’s expected we’ll have created 363,000 workers by 2020.
DG: Obvs that means we’re great at digital round these parts, but is there anything we’re bad at?
RG: Yup. We’ve got some awesome specialisms in the region; the Internet of Things, digital advertising and marketing, e-commerce and marketplaces, social networking and online gambling are our biggest digital strengths.
Where we fall down though is in shouting about it! British people on the whole are rubbish at telling people about their achievements, but the further North you head, the more that’s diluted. There’s a big funding gap in Northern cities and it’s harder to secure the money for digital projects and attract digital talent if we don’t tell people how good we are.
DG: You’re spearheading the growth of the North’s digital sector, what are the biggest barriers to that growth?
RG: Aside from the humility? We need more funding, we need more great digitally skilled people and ultimately we need to stop working in silos; we’re not dictated by the tribal regions of old. Transport, infrastructure and basic business processes should make collaboration for Northern cities simple.
DG: What’s the impact of doing all that right? What will it mean for the North?
RG: It’s simple, an extra £5.7bn for the region’s GVA!