Mandelson wants mini-Silicon Valleys as bedrock of 'UK digital lab' concept

Mandelson wants mini-Silicon Valleys as bedrock of ‘UK digital lab’ concept
Political correspondent Peter Mandelson is determined to create a series of high-tech clusters of electronic and information technology firms throughout Britain. The new Trade and Industry Secretary wants to see a string of mini-Silicon Valleys to promote his vision of the UK as a digital laboratory, and to revitalise the regions. He wants to attract university experts – whom he hopes will become risk taking entrepreneurs; introduce banking practices to help high-tech innovators; and ease the immigration rules for enable overseas experts to work with leading edge UK companies. Mandelson has set up a fund to allow regional development agencies to promote ‘clusters’ where high-tech companies start to develop the critical mass of skills needed for an electronics and computer boom. The fund is the first result of Mandelson’s visit to Silicon Valley in northern California. Mandelson is not satisfied with existing Thameside Silicon Valley and Scottish Silicon Glen regions. He said: “I visited Silicon Valley earlier this month and that is in part where this inspiration comes from. “Increasingly our wealth will be dependent on the development of competing and collaborating industries and services in particular areas and sectors,” he said. “It is clear that competitive advantages can be gained through networks of companies and institutions sharing ideas, knowledge and skills.” Mandelson is to try and promote more US style technology and information sharing between firms and university researchers. He told MPs: “One of the key objectives of government is to turn universities from ivory towers into business partners. That practice has been widely followed in the United States, and we could do with more of it here.”

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