New hub ‘golden beacon’ for digital sector

A new technology and innovation hub is a “golden beacon” of the digital sector’s strength in East Yorkshire.

The new C4DI building in Hull.

The Centre for Digital and Innovation (C4DI) opened its doors earlier this week to an array of technology and digital start-ups in Hull.

Previously, C4DI had the beta space for small innovative businesses to collaborate but the striking new building forms the centrepiece of @TheDock, a major regeneration scheme within Hull’s Fruit Market and Central Dry Dock area.

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Jon Moss, co-founder of C4DI, told The Yorkshire Post that the centre was really important for the city and the wider region.

He said: “It gives people the opportunity of doing something in the digital and technology sector in the city.

“I think it’s really important for the visibility of the city as well, so people who are thinking of setting up their own company or want to be employed by a digital company can actually see that there is a golden beacon for the tech sector.”

The city of Hull is also part of Tech North, an initiative to accelerate the growth of the digital economy in the North of England.

Tech North is part of Tech City UK, a publicly funded organisation that accelerates the growth of digital businesses and clusters across the UK.

“We’re one of the six cities that are part of Tech North, as well as Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds and a couple of others,” said Mr Moss.

He added that Hull is a great place for start-ups to operate.

“We’ve got a great high quality of living and low cost of operating a business,” he said.

One of the advantages for Hull is the level of digital connectivity. Mr Moss says fast internet speeds offer a “massive advantage”.

He said: “We have incredibly fast internet here. We have one of, if not, the fastest connections in the UK.

“It’s a key advantage for start-ups and businesses and individuals who are members in the building because everything is just instantaneous.”

He added: “A really good way to think about it is that it’s a kind of perfect storm for Hull.

“We’ve got connectivity, we’ve got C4DI, we also have UK City of Culture 2017. There’s a massive amount of confidence and investment from the private sector, and also a massive programme for regenerating and redeveloping the public space as well.”

Prior to joining C4DI, Mr Moss worked at Smith & Nephew until 2007. He then went on to set up Hull Digital, a wider technology community in the city and East Yorkshire.

Mr Moss said: “We started off with ten people in a coffee shop and we now have as of today 854 members.

“Then I got involved with the C4DI project when I was approached by Wykeland, who are the company who built this. Myself and John Connolly, we are the co-founders of C4DI.”

More than just a building

The 23,000 sq ft office building provides co-working facilities, meeting rooms and event space on the ground floor.

The event space has seating for around 40 people.

But Jon Moss says it’s about more than just the building.

“The whole point is that the building is a community,” he said.

Emma Cheshire, co-founder of Dotforge, the business accelerator, said C4DI was an “exceptional example” of bringing together people.

She said: “It’s a really solid network that they’ve developed there.

“That ecosystem that they were creating, they were building it before the building existed.”