Ambitious plans to put Swindon at the forefront of the UK's digi-tech industry were unveiled last night (Thursday).
Before 400 business leaders at Nationwide Building Society’s Swindon headquarters, branding organisation Switch On To Swindon announced the launch of TechSwindon.
A year-long campaign to connect the town's 2,800 businesses working in the digi-tech field will culminate in a two-day summit in spring 2020 with high-profile speakers from around the world, in venues across the town, welcoming up to 1,000 visitors a day.
The aim of the campaign is to enhance Swindon’s digi-tech cluster and showcase its impressive capability to attract inward investment and a pipeline of additional skilled staff to allow business growth.
Delegates heard that Swindon already boasts the UK’s third most productive tech sector.
After the last Switch on to Swindon event, local design company Bravedog won a competition to develop a Big Idea and they have worked in partnership with Ambassadors and Swindon Borough Council to create the concept of TechSwindon.
Announcing the initiative, Switch on to Swindon board member Kris Talikowski said: "TechSwindon places the spotlight on Swindon's growing tech sector. It will position us as a recognised digi-tech destination, attract skilled people to the town, shift a positive perception of Swindon as a town for the future, and boost the overall economy.
"It will put Swindon at the forefront of the tech industry."
Nationwide has become the first official sponsor of the initiative, and Swindon-based companies including Intel, BCS – the British Computing Society, Appsbroker, the National Trust, and Innovate UK are also on board.
Delegates enjoyed some examples of the work being carried out by Swindon digi-tech companies. Video production company Ottr Works transmitted live drone footage to the venue before bringing the drone into descent to give networkers a view of themselves from outside the glass-walled building.
Scaled, home to Europe's largest 3D printer, printed a virtual reality headset. And the headset was then worn to give a virtual reality aerial tour of the entire town, courtesy of topographic surveys specialist The Carto Group.
And there was good news for people who couldn't make the event, or wanted to enjoy the experience again: the virtual flythrough will be made publicly available as an app.
Jenny Groves, chairman of Switch On To Swindon said “The Switch On brand is used to promote Swindon as the destination of choice to live, work and do business and our 600 plus passionate Ambassadors provide their time and support to share these positive messages.
"Both local businesses and new investors will benefit from the TechSwindon focus on attracting and developing additional talent, alongside the timely recent announcement of Institute of Technology funding for Swindon College and partners”.
And councillor Oliver Donachie, Swindon Borough Council’s cabinet member for the economy and place, said: “Advances in digi-tech are essential to Swindon’s industrial growth in all of its key sectors, particularly advanced manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, business finance and professional services and logistics.
“I am therefore delighted we have launched the TechSwindon campaign, which will keep Swindon at the forefront of this dynamic sector.”