The start-up island with a growing technology ecosystem

The Isle of Man Government has published its latest economic statistics which show significant growth and investment on the Island, particularly in the technology sector, encouraging businesses and individuals to relocate, and new companies to form and prosper.

The Isle of Man Government’s Department of Economic Development invested over £4.5 million last year alone in local businesses across a number of sectors including e-Business, Manufacturing and Financial Services.

>See also: The most disruptive enterprise technology trends of 2017

As a result, the technology sector saw an 8% growth in jobs last year, now accounting for around 30% of the Island’s economy (e-Business and e-Gaming sectors combined). Indeed, 62 new businesses were created on the Island in 2016, and there has been a 19% increase in people enlisting in apprenticeships.

Major tech sector growth

The Isle of Man is in its 34th year of unbroken growth. The Island’s technology sector (classed as ICT and e-Gaming sectors combined) has grown by 8% since last year, now accounting for around 30% of the Island’s economy.

The Island supports more than 200 technology businesses with its robust broadband, telecoms infrastructure and unlimited power supply, state of the art data centres, good IP treaties, an accessible and supportive government, a competitive tax regime, and much more.

There are more jobs available on the Isle of Man now than ever before, with a 10% increase in job vacancies advertised at the JobCentre, and an 8% growth in jobs in the technology sector last year. This is matched by low levels of unemployment with a rate of 1% in May 2017, with long term unemployment almost halved since 2014, and a 75% reduction in youth unemployment since 2013.

>See also: The digital ecosystem: IT infrastructure now on CEO’s agenda

Financial support

Last year the Department of Economic Development’s investment in local businesses, included £300,000 via the Micro Business Grant Scheme, approximately £3million via the Financial Assistance Scheme and it recently completed the first deals arising from the £50million Enterprise Development Scheme, which was launched last year.

The Department’s Micro Business Grant Scheme is aimed at individuals looking to start their own business. In the last 12 months, this led to 62 new businesses created through the scheme, while over 180 people received business training relating to starting a business – an increase of 26% from 2015/16.

The Department’s Financial Assistance Scheme, which helps existing businesses to expand and new ones to establish themselves during their first year, made offers to 40 separate companies in 2016/17 for support totalling approximately £3 million.

This investment will be matched by a further £6million investment from the companies themselves, resulting in over £9million local economic investment stimulated through the scheme.

A third of these are new businesses, attracted and nurtured by the high quality environment and supportive ecosystem. The remaining are existing Isle of Man businesses looking to grow. It is estimated that up to 280 jobs will be created as a result of this investment.

>See also: Digital platforms emerging as a critical business building block – Gartner

The £50million Enterprise Development Scheme has seen high levels of interest over the past 12 months, with the first deals now completed resulting in an investment of over £1.2 million to businesses including Nimbus Medical Holdings Limited to support its InterCare® integrated technology platform, and to new start-up Scout4’s app for construction workers.

Skills development

In 2016/17 there was a 19% increase from 2015/16 in people enlisting in apprenticeships and there has been a particular focus on ICT skills training, with the JobCentre training 210 clients as part of their in-house ICT training and a new ICT apprenticeship scheme created in conjunction with the Manx ICT Association (MICTA) and the Department of Education and Children.

There is also a continued focus on developing ICT skills amongst the Island’s younger generation. Last year, the IT & Education Campus was launched, offering students undergraduate degrees in subjects such as Computer Science, Business Management and Finance & Accounting, with more courses to be announced in the new financial year.

Personal benefits for residents

As announced in the Isle of Man Budget in February, and in addition to rises in state pensions, benefits and health and social care spending, the Isle of Man Government introduced the single largest increase in the Income Tax Personal Allowance in any Budget: increasing the personal allowance from £10,500 to £12,500 for an individual and from £21,000 to £25,000 for a jointly assessed couple, meaning half the Island’s population will be better off.

>See also: Digital platforms emerging as a critical business building block – Gartner

In addition, the Department of Economic Development has reviewed the impact of work permit exemptions for certain roles in ICT and e-Business which were introduced in March 2016 and found that 17 local businesses made use of the new exemptions, employing 76 additional skilled and experienced workers as a result.

Brian Donegan, Head of e-Business Operations for the Department of Economic Development commented: “We are proud to continue offering an unbeatable proposition for start-ups, in particular, technology companies and individuals looking for a career in the thriving sector. Continued efforts are being made every day by the Department to grow the sector, make the recruitment process for ICT positions as quick and smooth as possible, and to close the skills gap in the industry by developing the ICT skills of our future leaders.”


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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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