Norfolk's digital start-up growth is outstripping Cambridgeshire and Suffolk
PUBLISHED: 15:50 18 October 2018 | UPDATED: 15:50 18 October 2018
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Norfolk has outstripped its county neighbours for digital start-ups in the past five years, according to new figures.
There was a 21% increase in digital businesses in the county between 2013 and 2017, according to analysis of Office for National Statistics figures by accountancy firm Price Bailey.
That increase – from 995 to 1,200 – compares to a 19% increase in Cambridgeshire, to 2,395 businesses, and 13% in Suffolk, to 1,300.
Norwich partner Aaron Widdows said Norwich was establishing itself as a digital hub, because of good transport links, a supply of graduate talent and lower costs than the major hubs of Cambridge and London.
He said: “Cambridge remains the leading digital hub in East Anglia but office costs in Cambridge and the surrounding science parks tend to be substantially higher than the equivalent in Norwich. Cambridge is a major draw for large, international occupiers, which landlords tend to favour.
“This means that smaller businesses tend to look further afield. The digital economy in Norwich is still relatively small but as more businesses locate here, we are starting to see a snowball effect.
“Norfolk is one of the most rural counties in the UK and still predominantly agricultural. Improvements in Norfolk’s broadband infrastructure are making it easier for digital businesses to locate in the county.
“Remote working is critically important for the growth of Norfolk’s digital economy, and fast broadband and 5G networks will play a key role in the future growth of the digital sector.”
He added: “Our corporate tax team in Norwich is dealing with an increasing number of Research and Development (R&D) tax credit claims for our clients. This is where there are enhanced tax deductions for qualifying expenditure on R&D projects. The majority of the claims we work on for clients have some form of software or other IT development in the projects, backing up the growth in the digital economy in Norfolk evidenced by these data.”
The analysis also shows that the number of digital businesses in many rural parts of Norfolk has increased considerably faster than Norwich since 2013. The number of digital enterprises in Norwich increased by 18%, from 225 to 265, compared to 26% in Kings Lynn and West Norfolk and Breckland, both from 115 to 145 businesses respectively. South Norfolk saw a 25% increase from 200 to 250.
Mr Widdows added: “Digital start-ups are increasingly able to take advantage of virtual office solutions. The increasing availability of fast broadband means that it is very easy to operate from outside Norwich while using a virtual office service located in the city.
“Rural areas also offer lower office and housing costs, which can be critical advantages during the early stages of a business.”