Accelerating Jersey's digital future

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By Tony Moretta, chief executive at Digital Jersey

WHEN Digital Jersey was established ten years ago, we used to talk about the potential development of Jersey’s digital sector.

Things have changed a bit over those ten years.

Today, it is clear that digital is not just one part of our economy but that it has a key role in strengthening all our industries. It is integral to every part of Island life. How we work. How we bank. How we shop. How we talk to each other. How we enjoy our free time. How we get healthcare. How we get the support we need, especially in emergencies such as the pandemic. Increasingly, digital is a key part of the solution to our big challenges.

That means that Digital Jersey has evolved too, as highlighted at our recent annual review. Our focus now is not only on improving economic sustainability in Jersey but also on improving the quality of Islanders’ lives, creating new and exciting employment opportunities and supporting the provision of improved public services.

While a big part of our job at Digital Jersey is still to connect our Island community of coders, creators, inventors and investors, it is also about pulling together all the different players in the Island from both public and private sectors and connecting them with experts from around the world so that we can learn from how other places have benefitted from tech. For example, at our annual review, guests heard from the Government of Canada, the chair of the UK’s Innovation Foundation for Social Good and the Estonian ambassador to the UK.

It is about collaboration and co-operation – acting as the magnet to pull all the great individual parts of our Island and our economy together to achieve positive, sustainable growth to benefit us all.

And this is important because our success as an island depends on our ability to integrate digital technologies in intelligent, smart and diverse ways. Digital is about the only way you can improve outcomes and save money at the same time, which sounds like something Jersey needs.


Track record

We have a track record, as an island, of being successful in exporting our expertise and being a key component internationally of the knowledge economy. The success of our financial services industry is an obvious example of that.

Through digital, we now have a significant opportunity to further enhance our business services proposition, to find more opportunities in exciting areas, to give our innovators a chance to build new businesses and our citizens new jobs and better lifestyles.

Although a small island, we have some of the fastest connectivity on the planet, a business-friendly government, easy travel links to the UK and Europe, and an increasingly digitally skilled population.

How are we going about ensuring that Jersey is ready and equipped to continue to enjoy success in the future, boosted by digital?

In our five-year strategy, we set out four key areas of focus:

1. Creating a digitally enabled industry, not only of new economy businesses but of existing companies using technology to improve their productivity and overall performance with the tools they need to thrive.

2. Growing our supporting infrastructure not only in terms of connectivity but with world-class institutions, international connections for us to learn from and a strong global reputation as an innovation island.

3. Upskilling our people through improved local educational opportunities, not only in schools but also for our workforce, and attracting top talent from around the world to help us build our digital community.

4. Working with the government to support the delivery of a truly digitally-enabled public sector and working closely with the public sector to enable a truly digital government, not only in the delivery of services to citizens but also in the prioritisation of digital in its plans for the Island’s economy and environment.

Crucially, we have government support to do this. The Outline Economic Strategy published last year recognises digital enablement as being critical to the Island’s future success, setting out a vision for Jersey to become a consistently high-performing, environmentally-sustainable and technologically-advanced small island economy by 2040.

New territory

We are now seeing the fruits of our efforts playing out in numerous positive ways.

The recent launch of the world’s first true data trust is a good example of capitalising on Jersey’s existing strengths – in this instance as a world-renowned jurisdiction for financial services and trust structuring – and applying our digital capabilities to take us into new territory.

The reaction we have received to the LifeCycle Data Trust project has been phenomenal. There is a real buzz that this could prove to be a significant win for Jersey as a leading jurisdiction in the area of data stewardship.

Our Smart Fields project is another example, exploring how digital can solve problems and enhance productivity in our agricultural sector, something of which we are so proud as an island.

We are finding new opportunities as well, working with the entrepreneurs and disruptors to help them nurture the next big idea. As an example, our Tech Start-Up Bootcamp, which started this year, is giving a group of ambitious local innovators the supporting framework they need to take their ideas to the next level. (Read some of their stories on pages 5 to 7.) We received 39 applications for only five places – a sure sign that our digital sector has advanced significantly over the past decade.

Last, but by no means least, we have Impact Jersey, our bold new initiative with government, created in collaboration with world-leading experts specifically to fund tech projects that address some of the biggest challenges we face as an island, supporting our brightest minds to identify new solutions working with the best technologies the world can offer.

Digital transformation isn’t just about improving productivity; it’s about creating entirely new jobs, industries, businesses and ways of life. It’s about opportunity. It’s about shared success.

Jersey’s future, like that of the rest of the world, will be digital whatever we do, but just think of the benefits of speeding that up a bit. That’s Digital Jersey’s job – to accelerate Jersey’s digital future, to build an inclusive and sustainable future for all Islanders.

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