Call to fast-track digital incubator for Peterborough – Business Weekly

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A feasibility study commissioned by economic development company, Opportunity Peterborough, has made the case for a digital incubator to help support small digital businesses and significantly grow the digital economy in the city.
A business incubator provides specialist support such as coaching, networking, and access to investment, that can help startups and entrepreneurs build their businesses faster and better, increasing competitiveness and supporting greater job creation.
The study was funded through the Towns Fund launched by the Government’s Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. 
Recommendations have already been used to develop a bid to the Shared Prosperity Fund for £345k to launch the first phase of a digital incubator.
The study analysed the local market demand, the suitability of local premises, and feedback from consultations with local digital businesses, educational institutions, and workspace providers. 
The findings show that Peterborough’s digital economy is growing but could expand a lot faster with a digital incubator. There is a heavy concentration of larger digital businesses who are performing well, but smaller companies in the sector need dedicated specialist support to achieve faster growth. 
Through a digital incubator, Peterborough could address skills gaps, help entrepreneurs develop their business and ideas and encourage more people into digital careers.
The city’s low cost and high-growth economy was cited as a great advantage for startup digital businesses. Peterborough’s strengths in high-tech manufacturing and growth of jobs in knowledge-intensive-businesses (KIBS) also suggest it could support a larger number of digital businesses. 
The number of KIBS jobs in Peterborough is said to have grown faster than in Cambridge in recent years, which indicates a highly beneficial environment for digital businesses.
There is also a major opportunity to develop the digital skills the sector needs through collaboration with ARU Peterborough, City College Peterborough, Peterborough College and University Centre Peterborough. 
An incubator programme could help secure employment for people in digital training, connect graduates with ambitious small businesses, and encourage entrepreneurship. 
Tom Hennessy, chief executive of Opportunity Peterborough said: “The report clearly shows that Peterborough has a solid foundation for its digital economy. 
“We’re in a digitising world so growing this sector is absolutely vital. It will also underpin growth in areas like manufacturing, warehousing, banking and even the creative fields as more activities move online.”
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