A sophisticated economy in microcosm
By Tony Moretta, chief executive of Digital Jersey
Jersey offers a host of benefits, over and above the lifestyle and beautiful scenery
Jersey has a history of innovation, whether you look back centuries to the knitting industry, or more recently, 1984, when the Island developed the first trust law which helped pave the way for our highly successful finance industry. Our size can, admittedly, make it challenging to become a world leader, but it can also be a positive. As a sophisticated economy in microcosm, we can innovate and react with agility.
One such innovation is Digital Jersey’s new Start-up licensing initiative. While we work hard to encourage on-island entrepreneurs – and this scheme includes them as well – there is also a need to replenish and re-invigorate our skills pool. We lose some of our home-grown talent to work abroad and so we need innovative companies who can come to the Island and become employers and tax payers.
Jersey has always been good at attracting forward-thinking individuals and companies. We can offer a host of benefits, apart from the lifestyle and beautiful scenery. Some of the reasons we are given by those who are interested in setting up here, include being based in a politically neutral and English-speaking country, the Island being a clean, safe place to live, the ability to make more of an impact outside the big cities and of course a favourable tax regime.
We launched the Start-up licensing scheme in January and already we’ve had six enquiries and three applications from firms looking to start in or relocate to the Island. One business has had its licence granted. The application criteria are strict, they must be involved in research, development and innovation, there must be great potential and scalability of their business idea and there must be a high standard of skills in the founders.
We want these individuals to come here, grow their businesses, create new jobs for locals and enhance our economy and society. Plus, now we have a stronger digital economy, we’ve already seen the scheme attract people back to Jersey to launch their start-up.
The Start-up licensing scheme was born out of the success of our initiative to ensure our local tech businesses could secure the individual talent they need to grow. Digital skills are in short supply everywhere, but on an Island with just 100,000 in population, that shortage is even more acute.
We have supported and endorsed a total of 61 registered and licence permissions for highly skilled tech workers to join local firms. These people are planning to create a further 121 jobs on-island as they teach and mentor locals and their presence enables our tech businesses to grow.
The Start-up scheme isn’t a back-door into Jersey, this is for genuine start-ups which can make a positive difference to our Island. We are seeing a particular interest in clusters such as, and not surprisingly, fintech, but also digital health and IoT.
Sometimes applications are from individuals who have moved here with their other half or have a business partner who is a Jersey resident. Most importantly, what they all have in common is a driving ambition to innovate through technology and to do so for the benefit of our Island.