2 April 2014

A vote of confidence for Bristol's technology scene

It's great when your hunches start to be confirmed. 

Recently I've been struck by the extent of tech creativity in the West, and Bristol in particular. The city has emerged as one of the foremost tech hubs in the UK, with a thriving ecosystem that seems bound to attract more attention and investment over the next few years.

Last week it was confirmed that Kainos, the long-established digital technology business that’s active in the public sector, healthcare and financial services, will open a Bristol hub of up to 50 staff.

I see this as a significant vote of confidence in the city from a 25-year-old software business with about 500 employees currently, spread across London, Belfast, Dublin and Gdansk in Poland.

So why does it want to call Bristol home? Kainos – found on Twitter here – says the office will help it to serve customers across the South West, Wales and the Midlands. But it also said that Bristol works because of the talent pool and tech culture that’s here in the city.

Brendan Mooney, MD at Kainos, noted: "Our move to Bristol reflects our growth, plus our commitment to our UK customers. Bristol is a central, well-serviced and business-friendly hub for us, with a great graduate and tech professional pool to draw on."

It’s heartening, too, that the city-region’s investment promotion agency, Invest in Bristol & Bath, is also supposed to have played a part in landing Kainos. It’s just the kind of business the area should be able to attract, but every deal like this bodes well in terms of other tech-savvy incomers continuing to arrive.

What does Kainos do? It’s headquartered in Belfast and primarily develops IT for businesses and organisations in the public sector, healthcare and financial services sectors. It has a good pedigree in that this year it again made the Sunday Times list of 100 best companies to work for, up from number 55 on the list in 2013 to 50 this year.

It's also well known for its Digital Academy. This is the tag for a series of initiatives to bring coding education to young people and identify tech talent. These have included "hackathons", summer camps, work placements and competitions for young people – among them AppCamp, which for the past three years has been run at every Kainos site for eight weeks, providing an opportunity for young developers and entrepreneurs to learn how to create applications for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad devices.

So that’s a great new arrival that we can all celebrate, and a fabulous vote of confidence for our city.

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