Lincolnshire, famous for the manufacture of the tank and leading in the production of food and drink, is growing an emerging industry – a digital sector currently worth £992million.
In 2016, our first Digital Landscape Survey found that nearly 2000 ‘digital’ businesses are based in the county, selling a range of digital products and services including telecommunications, digital marketing, software and app development, gaming products, healthcare, education and aerospace technology. In 2019, this figure has increased to 2,394 - more than the number of digital businesses in the whole of Northern Ireland!
Our 2016 survey also discovered that 16,000 Lincolnshire residents were employed in a digital role – 7045 of those within the digital sector. In 2019, there are 8,250 roles in the Lincolnshire digital sector, a 17% increase in just three years. The remaining digital roles are in businesses not defined as ‘digital businesses’ (such as farming, manufacturing and tourism) demonstrating that digital skills are needed in all types of industry, with the demand for digitally-skilled workers greater than the number currently available.
In 2016, employment in the digital tech sector was most highly concentrated in the Greater Lincoln area and along the A1 corridor to the south-west of Lincolnshire. The area around Doddington Road and Skellingthorpe Road in Lincoln had the highest concentration of digital tech sector employment in the county, and at the time was fast becoming the place to start and grow a digital business. In this area and in neighbouring North Hykeham there were (and are) high levels of employment in the manufacture of electronic components, publishing, computer programming and consultancy, IT and computer services, and telecoms.
Since the last report was published, Market Deeping has taken over as the area with the highest concentration of digital employment in Lincolnshire, with 16% of all tech sector roles based here - up from 12% in 2016. This is due to the development of the Eventus business centre, which is now home to several digital businesses, particularly in the computer consultancy and data processing fields. However, Lincoln and North Hykeham are not far behind, at 13.6% and 13.1% respectively (an impressive 5% increase for North Hykeham). The Mosaic digital hub also recently opened in Lincoln city centre, designed as a coworking space for digital businesses in the city, and Saxilby is proving to be a growing hotspot for digital activity due to an increase in computer programming roles in the area.
Daniel Westlake, Managing Director of Cursor and founder of Digital Lincoln, said: “The digital sector here in Lincolnshire is growing both in value and the numbers of jobs. Although it’s clearly early days, the growth of digital businesses here is outstripping many other regions - a fact made more remarkable considering Lincolnshire’s large area and low population density. There is wide-scale support to develop the digital sector, as improvements in technology and digital skills will open up opportunities not only for high tech jobs but also for all businesses in Lincolnshire."
The results of this year's report suggest a growing focus on filling the recruitment gap in the digital sector, including the arrival of a landmark Institute of Technology in Lincolnshire (one of only 12 in the UK), as well as the need for further collaboration and networking opportunities, improvements to infrastructure and providing assistance to businesses with the potential to scale up. There is increasing appreciation for the relevance of the sector, with the Greater Lincolnshire LEP recognising it as an important, enabling sector of the Greater Lincolnshire economy.
For a more thorough breakdown of Lincolnshire's digital sector, download our Digital Landscape Report (2019) below.