Having stated: ‘when many industries first gain maturity, the individual companies that make up the sector often begin to cluster in certain geographic regions’, the article goes on to claim that Sheffield is becoming a magnet for e-learning businesses.
In the early days of industry, clustering happened because an area had advantages in natural resources that were used in a particular manufacturing process. Later, when many businesses became more reliant on knowledge than physical resources, there was clustering around universities, like Cambridge in the UK, or the so-called Research Triangle area of North Carolina in the USA.
The article points out that: ‘Industry hubs happen when a big company, say Microsoft, Ubisoft, or Oracle, sets up shop, grows and, after a few years, has dozens of former employees lingering around the area, starting up their own companies and making use of the talent that has been attracted to the area.’ It adds that: ‘the concentration of e-learning companies in one area does lead to the growth of a pool of skilled labor, from which all may draw.’
According to the article, which was published at the end of September: ‘Examples of companies in the Sheffield area which have spun out from other, larger local e-learning companies include PTK, set up nearly three years ago by Patrick FitzPatrick, and Xoolon, established some four years ago by Martin Spence, formerly of ACT E-learning and then Vantage. Others have moved within the industry. Among these are Wendy Weller Davies, formerly of Sanderson CBT, Tata Interactive Systems and Learning Light, who is now working for Kineo, recently named the second largest e-learning developer in the U.K. with more than $8 million in annual turnover, and Keith Downes, who left Peakdean Interactive to set up the Sheffield office of LINE, the U.K.'s largest e-learning developer generating some $11 million a year.’
The article went on to say: ‘Another reason the city of Sheffield appears to be establishing itself as the capital of the U.K.'s e-learning industry, is the presence in that city of the headquarters of Learning Light, a centre of excellence in the use of e-learning and learning technologies in the workplace, established in 2006.’
Learning Light researches and produces the only independent market analysis reports on the UK's e-learning industry - and is currently working on its third such report, which is due for publication in November.
Learning Light's David Patterson commented, "Key e-learning related knowledge and skills are now well-represented among the working population in the Sheffield area, and this is helping to attract e-learning content and systems developers to set up in and around the city. So we're beginning to see a virtuous circle develop, which should continue to benefit both the industry and the area by continuing to provide more and more e-learning related jobs - and the people to do them!"
The eLearn magazine’s article concludes: ‘It's interesting that Sheffield, having grown prosperous in the 19th century through becoming noted for making steel and steel products, should be following a similar (clustering) path in the digital age to bring further prosperity through attracting e-learning and other digital industry producers’.
About Learning Light Ltd
Sheffield-based Learning Light (learninglight.com) is a centre of excellence in the use of e-learning and learning technologies in the workplace. Its knowledge base contains over 400 papers offering insights and advice on how to use e-learning & learning technologies.
Learning Light, which operates 'e-learningcentre.co.uk' one of the leading resources on e-learning in the UK, works closely with the Universities of Leeds and Sheffield and has undertaken a Systematic Literature Review of the available papers on the effective use of e-learning in conjunction with the University of Sheffield.
Learning Light occupies a unique space in the e-learning and learning technology sector networking with:
• Suppliers of e-learning and learning technologies to support the growth of the sector;
• Buyers seeking out learning technology solutions to improve the effectiveness of their business or organisation;
• Leading organisations worldwide who provide it with market knowledge from around the globe;
• Provides unbiased and impartial advice to both suppliers and buyers;
• Hosts events and workshops that provide the platforms to impart and gain knowledge by encouraging collaboration and sharing of best practice;
• Acts as a conduit between suppliers and buyers to forge successful business partnerships;
• Provides market intelligence and benchmarking information gained from its many contacts and networking partners;
• Provides access to research materials from leading learning technology professionals.