Making Silicon Beach a reality
7 June 2013
MPs, businesses and council leaders have joined Bournemouth University and the Arts University Bournemouth in a pledge to enhance and encourage the creative and digital economy in Dorset.
They came together at a Digital Summit, hosted by BU, to sign a manifesto which set in place plans and commitments to make Dorset an international hub for the creative and digital industries.
Tobias Ellwood MP, Conor Burns MP and Tony Williams, chief executive of Bournemouth Borough Council, were among those who joined the vice-chancellors of both Bournemouth's universities in signing the manifesto.
Professor John Vinney, Vice-Chancellor of Bournemouth University, said: "It will be after today that much of the hard work truly starts. Hopefully, this will be a powerful catalyst for us to take things forward."
Dorset already has an established and growing creative and digital economy, supported by the world-leading universities.
The manifesto commits to encouraging and nurturing this through supporting start-up businesses, encouraging existing businesses to relocate to the area and raising the profile of the creative and digital industry in Dorset so graduates choose to stay.
Bournemouth West MP Conor Burns, who also sits on the government's Culture, Media and Sport select committee, praised the idea of the manifesto.
He said: "It's being focused on and driven by this that we have a huge opportunity to make this work," he said.
"It's a fantastic place to live and work. That's the start of Bournemouth and Poole's offering to those looking to relocate."
Bournemouth University has committed up to £40,000 over the next 12 months to help raise the profile of Dorset as a hub for the creative and digital economy, through sponsoring events like the BFX animation and visual effects festival which takes place in September.
Bournemouth Borough Council also pledged to support the development of the digital hub in the area, through investing in infrastructure like super-fast broadband and offering small loans to creative companies.
Chief Executive Tony Williams said: "We recognise that Bournemouth will be a different place because of the digital economy, but we want it to be a better place, a thriving place."
Representatives from established creative and digital businesses in the area, including Adido and Bright Blue Day, were also at the Digital Summit to offer their ideas and support.
David Ford, CEO of creative agency Bright Blue Day, will chair a working group which will work with the Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership to help deliver the objectives of the manifesto.
He said: "There are a number of world class agencies now here doing work around the world, doing an amazing job and competing on that world stage.
"We need to put Dorset on the map and make it an international hub for digital, to make our own Silicon Beach."
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