Cisco UK & Ireland Blog

Driving innovation across the nation

February 16, 2015

It’s no secret that the UK is passionate in providing the entrepreneurs of tomorrow with an environment in which they and their businesses can flourish and develop. Our start-up scene is testament to the outstanding, innovative ability that many smaller businesses have to offer and turning the country into a hotbed of innovation, entrepreneurship and creativity has been no mean feat.

While London often grabs the limelight, increasingly it’s beyond the capital that the boundaries are being pushed to fuel a truly digital revolution. Last week, new research by TechCity revealed that 74 percent of the UK’s nearly 50,000 digital companies operate outside London, with Bournemouth taking the lead as the UK’s fastest-growing digital economy. Liverpool, Brighton and South Wales are also some of the fastest growing clusters outside London; all of which is great news as we look to build a sustainable digital nation.

While none of this growth would be possible without the backing and support of government funding, the role that corporate organisations have to play in generating new digital talent should not be underestimated. Much of the support for the UK’s start-up community comes from large business organisations and through mentoring schemes like the National Virtual Incubator (NVI) as well as the British Innovation Gateway (BIG) Awards, in which budding start-ups have the chance to compete for extensive funding and mentoring.

Whether in London, or regional hubs, transcending geographical barriers is critical in accessing the best resources and talent. The NVI joins the dots between incubation centres, science parks and academic departments through a network of 13 nodes across the country, extending as far as Swansea and Strathclyde. The network has created a community of over 750 ambitious start-ups which have access to technology, resources and support that may otherwise be beyond their reach.  As part of a much larger map of like-minded individuals who can look each other in the eye, work jointly on ideas and spark nationwide collaboration, each node offers the opportunity for peer-to-peer knowledge sharing, the ability to meet industry experts and to prepare for investment.

The most recent addition to the NVI programme, Digital Catapult, opened its Kings Cross centre in London in November last year.  With an ambition to rapidly advance the UK’s best digital ideas from concept to commercialisation, the Digital Catapult regularly puts out calls through the NVI network for entrepreneurs to connect and collaborate on various activities it runs throughout the country.

The potential for small companies nationwide is now immense and the quality and talent of start-ups is outstanding.  Through programmes such as the NVI and the upcoming launch of the 2015 BIG Awards, Cisco is again supporting the next phase of digital technology and celebrating innovation in all corners of the UK.

For more information on the NVI programme, please visit:

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