I have a pretty unique perspective on what happens in the city. I own and run the cities first coworking space and this gives me access to a lot of extremely talented, professional people. I see business and networking happening every day and I marvel at the sheer number and types of people that come to THINQTANQ. Between that and my involvement as Director of Digital Plymouth (the cities showcase for all things digital) I am also in a good position to gauge the size and direction of the job market within the city and the local area. It was this insight that prompted me to start MESH (a community based learning initiative designed to spread digital skills). So I have invested a lot of both time and money in the city and I couldn’t be prouder of the way everyone is working together to make a better future for all of us. But, there are some problems and although they are being addressed, it is happening too slowly.
The problems I speak of are;
- Lack of confidence. In the recent Tech Nation 2017 report, Plymouth (have a look at our page here) was listed as having 54 startup births. Not bad you say but compared to Nottingham which has 3 times as many digital jobs but nearly 5 times more startups you can see that Plymouth needs more help to support entrepreneurs.
- Lack of awareness of what Plymouth has to offer. Plymouth has world class facilities, talent and location but too often we don’t make it on to big companies city search lists.
- Student retention. Student accommodation is a bad word in Plymouth. Yet students bring (estimates vary) anywhere up to £300 million into the city. A driven, educated workforce who are already invested in the future of the city are a resource we should be desperately trying to retain. Hopefully this is about to change with ventures such as the Future Sync Conference designed to showcase why graduates should feel confident about staying in Plymouth and this should lead on to an increase in startups.
- Investment. Many businesses in Plymouth are actively seeking investment from locally based high net worth individuals or VC’s but many are happy to stir the pot of money around the city. This has to change and I was surprised at the level of support this message received when I spoke at a recent Digital Plymouth Meeting.
Now, I appreciate this sounds like a bit of a moan, but if you look you can see that for each point I have raised, I have also mentioned something that is changing to address it. And this brings me on to the single biggest reason we should all be telling the world about Plymouth.
Plymouth is a city that embraces rapid change, innovation, culture and social responsibility and this is the reason I am proud to call it home. In the atmosphere of political uncertainty that we are all living under, initiatives such as DATA Play run by what must surely be one of the most forward thinking planning departments in the country. The cutting edge attitudes towards electric vehicle adoption, improvements for cyclists, solar energy production and of course social enterprise with the fantastic work that the Plymouth Social Enterprise Network do, Plymouth is a city for people who want it all and are prepared to do a little extra in return.
Plymouth is awesome and I would love your help in sharing that message with the world.
Agree? Disagree? Want to learn more about any of the organisations or events I have mentioned? Just get in touch. I am sure I can help you out.