For people who live and work in Norwich, it came as no surprise when the city was named in the top 20 cities in the UK for technological innovation. While there is a common (mythological) stereotype of your typical Norfolk bumpkin, this is just so far from the truth.
According to research from the Open Data Institute and Digital Catapult in Leeds, the city currently ranks seventh for manufacturing and 19th overall. It is a leading city when it comes to technology and science and green industries are leading the way in research and development.
The findings were reported in the Eastern Daily Press and, in an article in the paper, Tom Forth, head of data at OPI Leeds which led the research, said a more focused approach, such as Norwich’s manufacturing strength, had emerged in the study.
This is great news for the region and answers a recent call from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) for business, science and technology leaders in the region to show just what Norfolk and the surrounding East Anglian counties could achieve. The call follows BEIS’s decision to pump £2bn into science and innovation.
Local Enterprise Partnerships from across the region, including the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough (GCGP) LEP, New Anglia LEP and Hertfordshire LEP as well as universities, businesses and research clusters, are all involved in running an audit of the regions’ technological and scientific development.
GCGP head of innovation Steven Wilson, who is leading the consortium of industry and academia, said: “Here is our chance to say: ‘These are our key science and innovation assets of truly global significance’.
“It is about raising the profile of the region, trying to attract inward investment and getting our clusters in life science, agri-tech, manufacturing and ICT to help each other.”
Sally Ann Forsyth, chief executive of Norwich Research Park, said: “We want the government to be aware of what we have and what we are ready and able to deliver.”
One company that is really pushing the boundaries of technology in a wholly applicable and relevant way is Pursuit Software, who are based at Rackheath, just outside Norwich.
Pursuit Software has recently launched its SmartMPOS system into the retail market, after an initial launch within the jewellery trade. The system presents a huge step forward in customer service as it allows shop staff to take a far more interactive approach with the customer, including quick access to the customer’s past shopping history; information on items in stock; ability to offer suggestions for other complementary items; and an ability to pay anywhere in the store.
The results are more engaged staff, higher levels of customer satisfaction, more returning customers and positive reviews on social media.
From the company’s perspective, SmartMPOS complements existing systems, meaning there is no need for an expensive, disruptive overhaul of the existing payment systems.
Chairman of Pursuit Software is Doug Burns. He said: “People can take a blinkered view of Norfolk-based businesses, but you only have to visit Norwich to feel the buzz and vibrancy in the city. It is a place where entrepreneurial spirit is encouraged and flourishes.
“Our team at Pursuit Software has developed the SmartMPOS system within that same innovative environment. It has all the potential to be a global game-changer but its roots are here in Norwich.”