Cisco UK & Ireland Blog

Embracing innovation to drive economic growth in the UK

August 1, 2018

From the smartest of cities to the most connected rural communities to high-speed connectivity on trains: the UK and its regions have great ambition to be digital.

While connecting people and things to the internet is the start, the true potential lies in what happens next. We all have a role to play in making this a reality.

We had the pleasure of attending the Northern Powerhouse business summit in Newcastle this month, as part of Cisco’s sponsorship of the Great Exhibition of North.

And it seemed apt that the conference was held in the Boiler Shop – the former home of Stephenson’s Rocket. It was the early steam locomotive which paved the way for the expansion of our railways in the 19th Century. A true hub for innovation.

In addition, running across the summer, the Great Exhibition of the North aims to inspire future generations and call out the North of England’s pioneering spirit. For us this is a fantastic opportunity to encourage children and people of all ages to look developing their careers and businesses with digital skills.

You look around and see that the UK is home to many of the greatest technology innovations the world has ever seen. But if we want that to continue and secure that great future, we have to help every part of the UK, every region, every individual, realise their digital potential.

We believe in the power of the regions, and the North of England is a prime example of where industry has flourished and where ambition resides, but there is a need to think differently about how we enable the region to fulfil its potential.

That’s why we’ve been investing in regional projects across the UK as part of our Cisco Country Digital Acceleration Programme (CDA). This includes everything from taking a lead role in CityVerve, the Government’s smart city enabler in Manchester, to working with ScotRail to bring superfast WiFi to trains to turning Mosley Street in Newcastle into the UK’s smartest street, with smart sensors installed on lamp posts and waste bins, to collect real-time local data.

Technology is infiltrating all walks of society, but there’s a few things to consider

As a nation, we do nearly twice as much business online as the next European country. We also have the largest start-up and VC market in the UK, so the appetite and behaviour is already there.

However, when it comes to our ability to embrace digital, according to the Digital Readiness report we jointly commissioned with Gartner. Today, the UK ranks only fifth in the world, behind Switzerland, United States, Singapore & The Netherlands.

Our digital ambition, if genuine, needs to be bold and take on those big national challenges, like healthcare, the environment and making our cities smarter.

In the UK we’re great at innovation and challenges, the intellectual capital and understanding exists but we really have to get focused on adoption and execution if we’re really going to be effective.

We need to think about how data and the information is accessed in the right way from the start, to allow people and industry to utilise it on top.

The opportunity is in the things you don’t know, when you open it up to others who may be far more innovative and more effective than you’d ever dream of being. We’re proud to help make that a reality through Cisco’s Country Digital Acceleration programme

Find out more about how we’re supporting innovation in the UK and its regions by visiting  

Leave a comment