Aim to turn district into centre of excellence

A major project that aims to secure Newark’s place on the technology industry map is set to be launched.

Silicon Forest aims to turn Newark and Sherwood into a centre of excellence for innovation and technology.

The project will bring together technology companies in the area to share ideas.

It is hoped they will use their influence and contacts to encourage new technology businesses to relocate or set up in the Newark area — and persuade people who want to work in the technology industry to remain locally.

James Fountain

Mr James Fountain, chairman of Newark Business Club’s action group, and founder and chief executive of Newark-based branding agency Bazzoo, said the project would help put Newark on the map.

With his company, he is helping to launch Silicon Forest with other technological firms in the area — including AVG, Node4, Vodafone, Timico, Reconnix, Jelly Products, National IT Learning Centre, Barcode Warehouse, Ampetronic and Reflex Gaming — and Newark and Sherwood District Council.

“The aim of the project is to establish Newark and Sherwood as a centre of excellence for innovation and technology and to provide a showcase for businesses to promote working together,” Mr Fountain said.

“It would encourage businesses to relocate to the area, share skills and build up expertise, demonstrating to others that Newark is a great place to work.”

The scheme could include business showcases for people to demonstrate their new products, technology and design conferences, and a fab lab, where budding product designers and entrepreneurs can test their ideas and bring them to life.

Regular meetings would be held for companies to discuss industry issues and meet people who want to work in the sector.

Mr Fountain said: “We have seen some big companies, such as Node 4, Timico and Barcode Warehouse, come to Newark and they are at the cutting edge of technology, which is great.

“There are also a lot of smaller, less well-known businesses that have moved into the area.

“It’s an opportunity to work with education providers, schools and universities to promote technology and IT as a future career opportunity.”

Julie Reader-SullivanThe project will work with the University of Lincoln, which offers product design and computer science degrees, and Nottingham Trent University, which offers degrees in digital media, computer systems, software engineering and product design.

Julie Reader-Sullivan, business manager for economic growth at the district council, who has helped co-ordinate the project, said: “It’s about making more happen in Newark.

“We have some fantastic opportunities, but also a hole in terms of getting people with the right skills set.

“It will provide an opportunity for businesses to network and we can organise a meet-up culture, where we can get people with the right skills to meet these businesses.”

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