DOTTY MCLEOD: A digital revolution is happening in Peterborough that could see it become a world leading tech city. That’s the view of one company in the city, who say improvements to broadband infrastructure are helping digital companies thrive. A campaign is underway to lure some of the world’s largest technology firms, and as Waseem Mirza now reports, if Peterborough Tech City is fully realised, it could mean a massive boost to the whole region’s economy.
WASEEM MIRZA: Here in a small shared office space in Peterborough a digital revolution is taking shape. At the startup called CityLan a multi-player video game is being tested using the latest gigabit fibre broadband connection, an ultra-fast connection that puts the city into the same league as Japan, Silcon Valley, South Korea. Aside from the video gaming event powered by fast internet connections, the city will be on show to other tech firms potentially interested in making Peterborough their home.
DAVE KING: I’m Dave King director of CityLan. Business are getting faster and faster and faster, and they need so much more bandwidth and so much quicker to send and receive all the information that they do. And this is just a great highlight to exactly what can happen in a gigabit city. And really to have 600 gamers all online at the same time, and of course for people to watch it online as well, it’s going to be a terrific event for the city.
WASEEM MIRZA: But CityLan isn’t the only tech project vying to put Peterborough on the digital map. For several years a computer programmer has led a community project, holding meetings with like-minded professionals who want to see the city forge a new digital path.
ALEX SHAW: My name is Alex Shaw. I’m the founder of Agile Peterborough technology community. When I founded Agile Peterborough there was a very strong preconception that Peterborough was a bit of a technology backwater. And I didn’t believe that, and we wanted to try and find if people were interested and available, and the right skill sets were in the city. Peterborough does and should and can become one of the world’s leading technology cities. We have the right environment, the right people, the right technology, the right infrastructure. And all of that combined together with a little bit of inspiration and passion will definitely enable us to move forward into the rest of this century, and become one of the biggest cities in the world for technology.
WASEEM MIRZA: It’s an ambitious goal, and there will be significant challenges, if the city is to become a digital pioneer. But could the answer lie at the intersection between Shoreditch and Old Street in London ?
ALEX SHAW: I’m actually standing right on the Silicon roundabout, or what’s famously been called Tech City by David Cameron in recent times, and in the last couple of minutes I’ve been walking around, and I’ve seen as many For Let signs up on the various roads branching out of this roundabout than I have actual dotcom and digital and technology startups, and big names as well like Google for instance.
WASEEM MIRZA: Again Alex Shaw, founder of Agile Peterborough.
ALEX SHAW: We do work with a lot of the companies and quite regularly with companies that are in London, and we see their pain. And unfortunately the cost of running a business in London is only ever going to increase. I think just attracting some of those startups to come and have a look out here wouldn’t be a difficult thing to do. We’re already finding that some are looking up here already, and starting to think about moving to some of the spaces that we have within the city and the surrounding area. And that’s only going to continue and grow.
WASEEM MIRZA: The CITYLAN Expo will launch on 20th August. If it’s a success, it could prove to be Peterborough’s defining moment as a future digital tech city.