Digital Isle 2021 delves into the Island's digital future

30 November 2021

Developing the Island’s digital future was the clear focus of the inaugural Digital Isle conference hosted last Thursday 25th November by Digital Isle of Man at The Nunnery in Douglas.

With over 350 people attending from across the Isle of Man’s technology and traditional business sectors, the event was an exciting opportunity to review progress made to date and explore the potential of digital to improve, enhance and attract new business as the Island seeks to make a name for itself as a “digital isle”.

Delegates were treated to a packed programme of expert speakers and panel sessions, touching on everything from eGaming, blockchain, fintech, esports and Internet of Things (IoT) to digital skills, immigration and blue sky thinking.

The event was opened by Minister for Enterprise Dr Alex Allinson who said that the adjustments made to how we live and work caused by the coronavirus pandemic meant that “changes planned for years ahead had been accelerated with a new appreciation of the digital sector as an essential and important part of all of our lives”.

Updating the audience on the progress of Digital Isle of Man, CEO Lyle Wraxall revealed an estimated 247 new jobs will have been created by the end of 2021, the majority of these in eGaming but also a number of roles in blockchain and other digital technologies. A target of 250 more jobs has been set for 2022 with a view to making digital a self-sufficient sector by the end of 2023. 

There were opportunities to build on blockchain success, legitimise the fast growing esports market, and become “the Isle of Trials”, he added, to support and provide the right environment for new and existing businesses to develop new ideas. 

Steve Billinghurst, Regulatory Lead for Blockchain, discussed the opportunity for developing blockchain and fintech on the back of the Island’s global reputation for financial services and David Fenlon, Esports Consultant, talked about the huge opportunities in the rapidly growing esports sector. Esports now has a global revenue of over $1bn, he said, and is particularly popular with Millennial and Gen Z audiences with an explosive rate of growth anticipated over the next few years.

Sarah Ennett, IoT Manager, gave the audience an insight into work going on around IoT and a “Smart Island visualisation” that is due to be completed by the end of 2022. Sarah also talked about her role as Skills Project Manager and the drive to create more skilled workers for the digital sector. This will include running a digital skills campaign in 2022 to attract more skilled workers to the Island, a boost to the numbers going through the Government’s Digital Literacy programme and creating a technology careers hub with centralised resources and marketing.

Other topics among the many discussed during the day included the future of eGaming licensing, banking options for digital sectors, building an Island data proposition and a start-up clinic for technology businesses. Delegates were also invited to attend a special eClub social and networking event after the official programme was over.

Speaking after the event, Lyle Wraxall, said Digital Isle had lived up to expectations in communicating the huge number of developments taking place in the digital sector and enabling those working in this space to share progress, exchange ideas and to find out more about what was happening in particular areas.

“I’d like to thank everyone for helping to make this such a successful event,” he said.

“As well as showcasing how far we have come, it is clear there is a lot of appetite – and so much opportunity – to make significant steps forwards in our ambitions to become known as a Digital Isle.

“The Isle of Man already has a global reputation in financial services and eGaming; by applying our nimble can-do attitude, targeting some key challenges such as skills and immigration, and drawing on our strengths in producing pragmatic but robust regulation, we have the chance to become a similar internationally-respected powerhouse in the digital world.”

Video of the Digital Isle event can be viewed here. Digital Isle of Man's Strategy for 2021-2024 can be found here.