Building a real 'Tech Nation': challenges for national government and local leadership teams

The growth of London's Tech City - from the 'Silicon Roundabout' of the noughties to a credible European Digital Capital and global brand - has been one of the defining successes of the UK economy over the past decade. 

Cameron's championing of the cluster and the brand included significant support for cluster architecture (e.g. building 'Tech City UK' and its programmes), high prominence in UKs international profile, and strong encouragement for  the footprint to reach towards and into the Olympic Park.

It also sought to make the brand 'national'. 'Tech Nation' maps and promotes digital clusters outside London. The 2015 'Tech Nation: Powering the digital economy' report profiled 21 digital technology clusters nationwide - outlining, at a high level, their respective scale, focus, strengths and challenges.

However, TechNation remains a superficial construct, with major evidential and policy challenges. The attached piece - published as a Digital Leader's Network Manager's Choice in May 2015, sets out a preliminary consideration of how national and local leadership teams may meet those challenges...


A long way from Silicon Roundabout to a real TechNation


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  • July 2015: First meeting of University of Warwick Chancellor's Commission on the future roles of University in Coventry, Warwickshire and the Midlands. Will be exploring a lot of the ground covered in this presentation to University of Northampton Conference on the Urban University
  • June 2015: 'It's all about the narrative...'. How Galeano's 'Soccer in Sun and Shadow' can tell us a lot about England post-general-election -
  • June 2015: Produced a major LGIU briefing on enhanced devolution, which i hope may be helpful as local authorities and partners revisit and redevelop their propositions post-election in light of Chancellor and Greg Clark's statements, and of Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill.
  • May 2015: Many thanks to Digital Leaders Network for making my analysis of 'TechNation' a Manager's Choice. A number of choices for both national and local leadership teams if we are to make TechNation a UK-wide reality.
  • May 2015: A first piece for Municipal Journal - trying a slightly left-field look at Combined Authorities (CAs). Beware of Whitehall bearing 'colonial' CA gifts; and go beyond crude 'isomorphic mimicry' of Greater Manchester. Take a look at and tell me what you think.
  • May 2015: After the general election result, progressives need to take stock quickly. 'How Cameron stole the election and destroyed the country...'seeks to contribute to those debates, and a new strategy to 2020 and beyond. 
  • April 2015: Delighted to have been asked to support the University of Warwick Chancellor's Commission on the 'place of the university in the region in its second 50 years'. Will undoubtedly explore some of the issues in this LGIU policy briefing on 'Universities as anchor institutions' and HE-LA relations.
  • March 2015: Pleased to continue to develop strong health economy relationships with local growth agendas - as illustrated in this blog for NHS Confederation - come back to me for any further details.
  • March 2015: I have now undertaken a number of commissions on appraising Combined Authorities, Growth Boards, LA and LEP-based constructs for leading local economies. Some of the lessons of these are captured in this LGIU pre-general election briefing 'Leadership and Governance of Local Growth'.
  • February 2015: Pleased to contribute to PAS "Economic Growth: Value of Planning" Conference with this presentation, stimulating interesting discussions. Complemented by first new column for Planning magazine - this piece on the future of strategic planning 
  • February 2015: Delighted to present an England perspective on Smart Specialisation (S3) with Kevin Richardson of HEFCE to the EU Cohesion Policy Conference in Riga. A vibrant Latvian and RSA-organised event stimulated an intelligent discussion on our recommendations for EU S3 developments over 2015-20. If you want a copy of the full paper, or a more substantive discussion (S3 is likely to be even more prominent in the final England ERDF Operational Programme), please get in touch.
  • January 2015: As part of the work on framing an engineering growth plan for Outer East London, Thurrock and Basildon, had a fascinating tour of the area's assets and opportunities with CEME and the four local authorities. Atrocious weather could still not obscure or dampen the potential!

  • January 2015: A milestone in the work of the Corsham Institute (Ci) as new web site, and  Corsham Community TV is launched. Every community should have one! Big hopes that 2015 will be the year that Ci - the UK Centre for Digital Society - comes into its own

  • Farewell to 2014 and towards a Happy New Year 2015...and how we might make 2015 a good year for local growth; and, however much things change, they also stay the same!






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