Last week I met Toby Parkins, Chief Executive of Headforwards Software in Pool to discuss the innovative idea of a new Fibre Park in the area.
In recent years we have seen an embryonic but vibrant computer software industry taking root in this part of Cornwall. The big leap forwards came with the introduction of super-fast broadband. It means that software companies can now compete around the world from a digital connection in Cornwall. Previously, people often had to choose between a high flying job in London or the lifestyle choice of Cornwall. That's changing. Today, new industries like software producers can run world beating operations from Camborne and Redruth offering people the best of both worlds.
Headforwards now employs over fifty highly skilled people and is expanding. Down the road at the new Barncoose Gateway office block, NetBooster have established their main European headquarters and BlueFruit, another highly successful local company, is also moving in. Between them, local computer software companies are now employing hundreds of people in Camborne and Redruth and they are paying good salaries. I want to see them grow and prosper and I also want to ensure that young people taking their GCSEs are learning to write computer code so that they can take up these new opportunities.
The concept behind the fibre park proposal is simple. You create a hub near the Pool Innovation Centre which offers a mixture of state of the art business space and educational space. It means that up and coming enterprises who have outgrown the innovation centre can move to larger premises and you can also establish an academy in computer software co-located on the same site so that you can have a partnership between, say, Cornwall College and local businesses. Young people taking computer courses at Cornwall College will be able to develop their talents within real working environments rather than in a classroom detached from front line innovation. It will take a lot of work to move the idea from being an interesting concept to a real venture, but I think we should give it a shot.