Why Southampton is Britain’s next big tech city

The south of England has experienced incredible growth over the past few years, especially Southampton. Having recently been named as a top 5 Super Cluster city, Hannah Waddington, Sanderson’s Southampton regional manager, explains why the city deserves its new accolade.

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In May 2019, Starling Bank announced that it would be opening up a new office in Southampton. I was delighted to hear the news as I have grown increasingly passionate about this, specifically regarding business and technology.

One of the reasons Starling Bank chose Southampton was based on Southampton’s placement in the top 5 of CBRE’s ‘Super Cluster’ category of its EMEA Tech Cities: Opportunities in Technology Hotspots report. It was 5th is a list of 23, beating the likes of Cambridge and Bristol.

For some, Southampton would not be an obvious choice, but given its new status (focused on mid-sized businesses with between 20-70,000 tech employees), there are many reasons why technology businesses choose to relocate here.

Southampton University is a world leading and research-intensive institution. In 2001, Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, accepted a chair at the School of Electronics and Computer Science. It’s a member of the SETsquared partnership, a business incubator whose Southampton centre is based at Southampton Science Park.

Tech Solent, a joint venture by local law firm Coffin Mew, Southampton Solent University, Cogeco Peer 1 and Southampton City Council was created to establish the region as a centre of tech activity. In its inaugural conference Dame Wendy Hall, one of the world’s leading computer scientists, spoke of making Southampton a UK centre of AI.

Southampton will also host the first South Coast Tech Awards in December. The awards will celebrate and recognise the region’s blossoming tech industry. Sanderson are sponsoring the ‘Tech Employer of the Year’ category, rewarding businesses who show themselves to be great places to work.

This recent drive in entrepreneurialism has caused a huge increase in digitally driven turnover driven to £2.1 billion, up 41% from 2014-2017. With these growth initiatives, businesses will undoubtedly grow but one key ingredient is talent.

More must be done to attract younger, millennial talent rather than losing them to London and beyond. As there is a severe shortage of talent in the UK across many regions, each one must do all it can to compete for the best.

You may be thinking that salaries are the top priorities for candidates and, while Southampton has a higher than average tech salary outside of London, there are other ways to retain top talent:

  • As of July 2019, Southampton scored ‘Very High’ on the quality of life index due to its low cost of living, abundance of green spaces, and proximity to water. Companies need to promote these factors to potential candidates.
  • Your company’s flexible working and wellness practices within work (if you have them) should be at the forefront of your attraction techniques – 51% of employees want more flexible working options, showing the importance of establishing a work-life balance. Work perks such as health insurance and cycle-to-work schemes are also held highly.
  • Recruit more creatively and establish a company infrastructure to recruit talent rather than specific skills. Promote in-house training programmes and take advantage of the talent you already have.

It’s evident that Southampton is an up-and-coming tech region. Now more than ever, companies and candidates are flocking to the South Coast to establish themselves here. Companies must be ready to accommodate this influx and help this new talent feel at home in their organisations.

Sanderson is one of the UK’s leading independent providers of outsourced recruitment services and has proven expertise in a range of talent acquisition, talent management and contingent workforce solutions with over 40 years’ experience. We use our market knowledge and expertise to facilitate our customers’ recruitment needs to the best of our abilities. Hannah Waddington has been running our Southampton office since its opening in 2016.

 

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