Thursday, 19 July 2018

Cornwall – The Powerhouse of the South West

After another turbulent week in parliament it was good to get back to Cornwall at the end of last week to focus on some of the local issues where things are more positive and less fraught with argument. Liz Truss, the Treasury Minister was on a visit to Cornwall to meet some of the new entrepreneurs in the computer software industry around Camborne, Pool and Redruth and to hear about their plans to take this sector to the next level.
Over the last two or three years, we have seen growing momentum behind the embryonic computer software industry here in West Cornwall.  A recent national study identified Camborne and Redruth as one of the fastest growing computer software clusters in the country with huge growth in jobs and turnover. Last week saw the annual "Agile on the Beach" conference at Falmouth University which brings together leading computer software experts and designers to address the challenges and developments in the industry. The event was put together by a forward-thinking group of software entrepreneurs from the area and is now judged to be among the top three events in the world for software technologies.
"Agile" is a new management concept which can be applied to many disciplines including even in financial management but is especially used in software development.  It is about removing rigid processes, targets and management plans and replacing them with something more flexible, holistic and iterative so that complex challenges can be overcome by natural adaptation.
I have always said that I wanted to see new industries and higher paid jobs in Camborne, Redruth and Hayle. The ingredients of success are the right infrastructure, like Superfast broadband, and the raw talent of bright individuals who can make things happen. Then you need critical mass so here is local resilience which we are now starting to get. Previously, people had to choose between leaving Cornwall and taking a well-paid career up country, or taking the lifestyle choice to live in the most beautiful part of the country but accepting a lower salary. The plans for a new Fibre Park and software academy at Pool continue to develop. It is the brainchild of Toby Parkin from Headforwards Software who we met last week. The concept is that you could have modern workspace perfect for the software industry co-located with a software academy so that you break down the barriers between training and industry. Talented code writers would occasionally take lectures and students would take part in real projects in real businesses to develop their skills.
Last week I also met a group of young people taking part in the annual National Citizenship Service (NCS) programme. Set up back in 2011 as a type of modern day, non-military National Service, NCS is open to all 16-17-year olds in England and aims to bring together young people from all sorts of different backgrounds, helping to break down social barriers and develop self-confidence. The group I met were working on a project to make a film raising awareness about the dangers of drug abuse.

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