Hull has nothing to prove

06th Jun

Our lives are touched daily by digital businesses based in, and around, Hull. David Keel, Chair of C4DI says “every business is digital, most of them just don’t know it yet”and this has never been more true or critical to our city.

Most people think of digital businesses as high profile tech products and services that are “lottery-betting” on becoming the next geeky thing that will disrupt or destroy a traditional sector…. Uber, AirBnB etc. A feeding frenzy builds around this, trying to apply a similar formula for creating more of those sorts of businesses… and so pitching competitions, Dragons Dens, hackathons, “one-size-fits-all” accelerator programmes appear. Very occasionally there’s real money and real opportunity involved but this has never been the right fit for Hull, and regardless, we’re years behind many other cities.

Sadly these bubbles frequently lead to a frantic search for the “next thing in tech” where the latest buzz word or sexy new technology grows into a headline for a region. Every few years, our own region has attempted to reinvent itself as the place for digital arts, for gaming, the place for smart cities or some other latest technical fad… which when it invariably fails, risks leaving a bunch of local kids with broken dreams who bought into a vision lead by someone with no track record in tech or knowledge of the sector.

The most credible approach for a city to grow their tech sector is to pursue an agenda driven by what a region is historically good at… It’s that simple

What this means for local tech experts and business people is that they can work on finding local people with deep knowledge of a particular industry, and build them the digital tools to either solve their challenges or open new growth opportunities. Our city is marvellous at this – whether that’s traditional businesses like Arco and Rix heavily investing in local digital opportunities, or the clustering around consumer health, logistics, Agri-tech, and more across the C4DI sites, or the work around construction tech with Group 55, or the many new start-ups like Bombyx and Operance who know their industries inside out and are leveraging tech platforms to disrupt them … these are the things that really do grow jobs and change the economy locally. Our area leads the world in renewables, logistics, consumer healthcare, digital brand management and more – and this is where the tech opportunities are.

We’ll continue the work to positively change the profile of this region by helping those sectors harness the tech skills they never knew they needed, and by helping tech companies supporting those sectors to access world class supply chains. This is where organisations like the C4DI can help – and large global businesses such as Boots, Nestle, GXO Logistics, GSK, as well as local giants such as RB and Siemens are leveraging these locally based opportunities daily.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn

@thedock, 31 -38 Queen Street,
Hull, HU1 1UU

BusinessWorks Hull & East Yorkshire summer 2022

Features from the latest print magazine, Summer 2022

  • Pioneering creative digital agency Sowden + Sowden looks ahead to the next four decades
  • We meet the close-knit team at Risby Homes
  • Emma Bateman tells why she gave up her job to follow her passion
  • Meet the man who runs two businesses from halfway round the world
  • Plus lots more…