MSC R&D attended the 4th Supercharging the Digital Economy conference, run by techUK, in Manchester on 6th November.

Once again speakers and delegates explored the transformative, cutting edge and emerging digital technologies that are key to accelerating the digital transformation of key sectors and industries in the North of England.

The welcome address was given by Councillor Elise Wilson, Leader of Stockport Council, in which she highlighted Manchester’s importance in the Digital world (in the top 5 European Digital City regions with 10,000 Digital and Creative companies and growing), and the need to develop a collaborative model with industry, government and academia all working together to overcome the common challenges that may be preventing digitisation.

Key points to come out of the conference during a fascinating and interactive day:

  • The roll-out of 5G is an enabler for smart cites and connected communities – but this faces challenges overcoming legacy, politics and ownership issues. A collaborative approach is required to address the rural areas of the region.
  • Companies are having to deal with ever accelerating rates of change in technology (AR/VR, AI, IoT Manufacturing Automation) - need to map out the next 10 or more years and consider technology imperatives in the context of the outcomes they want to deliver – customer value driven.
  • Technologies are converging – with the exponential growth of data at the heart – need to collaborate and share across corporate boundaries. A recent client survey by CGI highlighted the increased focus on ‘creating a digital eco-system or supply chain’.
  • The UK is at least 3 years behind China – they can now ‘predict crime’.
  • Everything is moving towards “As a Service” – no one wants to invest in assets.
  • There is a risk of no standards – creating the soft underbelly of cyber security. Standards are like toothbrushes – ‘good idea but wouldn’t use someone else’s!’.
  • Not enough capacity in required skill sets - challenge to attract new and retrain existing. Every generation will face IT challenges. Data validation is critical but ‘dull’.
  • Necessary to physically connect key northern cities as well as digitally – enable them to compete globally.
  • Work with start-ups to do your R&D.

MSC R&D has been an active member of techUK for many years and offers its R&D Tax Credit and grant funding services to its c850 member companies.