Minister for Digital & Creative Industries Visits Engine Shed on Tour

  • Margot James MP, Minister for Digital & Creative Industries, met with Bristol tech entrepreneurs at Engine Shed to learn more about the local scale-up ecosystem
  • The visit centred around Engine Shed on Tour and the Diverse Workforce for the Future programme, two projects which connect young people with potential careers in the digital workforce
  • A roundtable discussion on inclusive economic growth with representatives from the local tech sector concluded the visit

On Wednesday 30th May 2018 Margot James MP, Minister for Digital & Creative Industries, visited Engine Shed to meet with local tech entrepreneurs as part of her mission to learn more about the Diverse Workforce for the Future project, including the recently launched Engine Shed on Tour.

The Minister had heard of Engine Shed’s work developing the scale-up ecosystem, including collaboration with school pupils, connecting them with the opportunities and skills needed to enter into the creative and digital workforce. The visit was an opportunity for Engine Shed and its tenant companies to showcase the work they’re doing to promote long term, sustainable economic growth for the region and the UK.

Margot James MP commented on her visit:

“We’re working hard to create the conditions for Britain to be the best place in the world to start and grow a digital business. Engine Shed is a superb example of the approach needed to ensure businesses are supported and young people inspired by the opportunities digital technology presents. The strength, diversity and vitality of the tech sector in the West of England highlights how well placed the UK is to deliver sustainable and inclusive economic growth for a truly global Britain.”

Engine Shed on Tour partner, Boomsatsuma, shared their wider work with schools in the region, including their own diplomas, which inspire young people in the West of England around future career opportunities in creative industries.

Mark Curtis, Creative Director of Boomsatsuma, said:

“As a developmental training provider, we couldn’t exist in such a meaningful way without the support and immersion in Engine Shed’s ecosystem. The opportunity to share our thinking with the minister and glean support as we scale and develop was extremely welcome.”

The visit concluded with a roundtable discussion on inclusive economic growth, with representatives from a number of Engine Shed’s tenant companies, members of the SETsquared Bristol high-tech business incubator, and the Oracle Startup Cloud Accelerator programme.

Zara Nanu, Founder of Gapsquare, said:

“Digital technologies are shaping our futures and economies, and yet a recent EU wide study is showing that there is a growing gap between men and women’s participation in the sector. The gap widens not only because fewer young women choose a career in ICT when they study, but also because a large percentage of women leave their jobs later in life. This has repercussions for both productivity, shortage of skills, and wider societal development. The UK government can take on a leading role in working with businesses to break down barriers and engage more women in shaping our digital future.”

DigiLocal from High Tech Bristol & Bath (HBB) supports communities to run tech clubs for their young people, partnering with Engine Shed to strengthen volunteering links with high tech companies, and was present to share their experiences working with young people in the region.

Dr John Bradford, CEO of HBB, said:

“It was very welcoming to see the Minister’s genuine interest in the skills & diversity challenges facing our high tech industries. I hope that some of the experiences we were able to share can inform wider policy & initiatives to enhance inclusive access to career opportunities in high tech.”

Nick Sturge, Director of Engine Shed said:

“It was a pleasure showing the Minister around the building and introducing her to some of the work that we do. The fact that she was previously Scale Up champion was useful in connecting our current work developing the scale up ecosystem in Bristol & Bath with the work we do with young people to ensure we have a diverse talent pool for future growth.”

Engine Shed’s Diverse Workforce for the Future project aims to inspire young people from diverse background to follow careers in the tech, digital, creative, and low carbon sectors, where adults from their demographics are currently under-represented. Full information on the project can be found here.


Photo credit: @JonCraig_Photos