Newham Council has revealed plans to set up a “data campus” at East Ham Town Hall, with the facility intended to be “a focus for innovation, entrepreneurship and learning in leading edge digital and data technologies”.
The council’s ambition is for the campus to create opportunities for young people to develop skills and careers while providing an incubator for startups and businesses in what it calls “data industries”.
The council launched Newham Sparks as a clarion call to support innovation, business growth and new jobs around data in the borough at London Tech Week in September 2021.
The Mayor of Newham Rokhsana Fiaz has now announced that the council will be opening up East Ham Town Hall to provide free business incubation space to local data and digital entrepreneurs. Her mayoral parlour will be the first room to be opened up, to show how under-utilised spaces in civic buildings can be used to promote the creation of businesses based on data and IT.
The council said: “[The plans] represent tangible steps towards Newham becoming a leading destination for digital and data industries powered by our Newham Sparks investment programme. An open invitation to join Newham’s burgeoning digital and data community and access this opportunity will be published later this month.”
The £1.2m Newham Sparks initiative was launched following research conducted by Newham Council in collaboration with University College London’s (UCL) Institute for Global Prosperity, which estimated that in the borough of Newham the data sector currently generates £23.1m. It stated that this amount could increase by over four fold to £104m by 2035 and create 5,500 new jobs in the data sector.
Fiaz said: “Our intention is for Newham to become a leading destination for the digital and data economy, capitalising on the unique opportunity our borough presents for innovators and investors while creating opportunities for our residents.
“Research shows that the data and digital industries will help us to future-proof our borough – above all in supporting our residents and young people to benefit from high quality local jobs while inspiring growth in businesses and supporting the transformation of how we deliver services as a local authority. I look forward to seeing businesses and young people together in our Data Campus collaborating on the ideas that will secure inclusive growth in Newham into the future.”
Newham includes the Innovation District in Olympic Park and the Royal Docks Enterprise Zone.
When Newham Sparks was launched in 2021, Fiaz said the borough was “best placed to one day be positioned to invite, nurture, facilitate and embed the data sector of the wider digital economy, in line with what London has set out as its ambitions in this arena”.
She added: “We’ve got the appetite, the infrastructure and a population which is very young, skilled, agile and early [digital] adopters to be able to seize the opportunities in the context of inclusive growth.
“A lot of Newham’s growth was predicated on the Olympics coming to London, and I wouldn’t detract from that – it has been an engine for job creation, but it has largely been jobs in the construction sector or in retail – [but] in the context of wage stagnation, zero-hours contracts and the fragility of an economy, that’s not sustainable in the long term. We want to lift people out of poverty.”