Posted on May 10, 2017 by staff

Collaboration key to helping Liverpool embrace digital


Liverpool is beginning to embrace digital on a wider scale, according to Mashbo MD Gavin Sherratt.

The city’s Knowledge Quarter is the focus of investment programmes worth more than £1bn and home to Liverpool Science Park and the upcoming £15m Sensor City innovation centre. It also plays host to the Baltic Triangle hub.

Sherratt, who co-founded digital development agency Mashbo – which supports creative digital start-ups through investment, mentoring and access to entrepreneurs and investors – said the reach extends further.

“The city has a strong heritage in digital but we’re slowly starting to see other sectors in the region embrace digital,” he told BusinessCloud.

“We’re seeing more collaboration – not just within the sector, but also across sectors like professional services, manufacturing and the third sector (voluntary and community organisations).

“These more ‘traditional’ sectors are starting to realise that they need to embrace digital to continue to be relevant to their customers, and they’re looking to digital agencies to help them discover how they can do this.

“This in turn is helping to sustain and grow the city’s digital economy.”

He is also curator of the Creative Kitchen network, delivering events that create opportunities for creative digital businesses to network and showcase their work.

“The skills gap is beginning to bite, with all of the agencies starting to need the same talent, and the traditional non-digital businesses also looking to hire people with digital skills,” he said.

“There needs to be more scale-up support to allow businesses to grow sustainably and bring increased revenue into the tech economy.

“At this event, I want to see a more positive and collaborative approach to upskilling new talent.”

Rather than pay expensive recruitment fees to circumvent the skills gap, a group of companies in the city have joined forces to tackle it head-on through the 10-week Catalyst programme.

Aimed at 18-30-year-olds hoping to get their foot in the door of the digital industry and those already in work seeking to brush up on their skills, around 40 companies have signed up to the programme with most holding workshops, talks and providing studio tours.

The initiative is the brainchild of entrepreneur Robyn Dooley, who founded the Innovators Hub after leaving her college course in fashion at the age of 17.

Student Jessica Grogan appeared on the course. She said: “I enjoyed finding out about all the amazing creative companies in Liverpool that don’t get shouted about enough.

“As a student I hope to gain advice on how to avoid the pitfalls of the creative skills gap, not just in Liverpool, but all over the UK.”

The initial programme has been so successful it now looks certain to be repeated and could be rolled out across other cities facing a similar skills gap problem.

At ‘Tackling Liverpool’s digital skills gap’, BusinessCloud will hear from some of the driving forces behind the Catalyst programme and see if the model could be used elsewhere.