AppsCluster Strategic Plan 2013-15

AppsCluster Strategic Plan 2013-15

Download and view our Strategic Plan 2013 – 2015 here.

Authors and Reviewers

Abdul Hamid A software developer with over 10 years experience, teaches Mobile Computing at London Metropolitan University. He designed and developed the curriculum for Mobile Application Development accredited by OCN London

Dr. Adam Daykin Adam Daykin is co-founder of QApps. Adam is part of Queen Mary Innovation Ltd, the technology commercialisation unit at Queen Mary, University of London and sits on the board of four University spin-out companies.

Alex Nelson Alex coordinates the very active Volunatry Sector Children and Youth Forum in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, she has previously worked as an Area Manager with School-Home Support in Tower Hamlets, and as a class teacher in primary schools in Tower Hamlets. Alex volunteered in Bangladesh for 9 months with the Church of Bangladesh’s Education Department developing resources and teacher training. Alex currently volunteers with a homeless organisation.

Angela Chan Achieved a BSc Computer Science and MSc Software Engineering. She managed a large network of learners and stakeholders within community projects in Tower Hamlets and developed the interface for a Customer Relationship product.

Asma Nahar Completed a BSc Mathematics at King’s College London. Managed community learning provisions in Tower Hamlets and has been developing the user-interface design for a new digital product.

Dennis Twomey Dennis was a Labour leader of the council in the early 1980s and has chaired a number of public and third sector committees, Boards and organisations. He currently also serves as the Chair for Limehouse Project of Governors for a local school, and is Treasurer for Step Forward – a local charity working with young people. Dennis began his career as a physicist. He completed his D.Phil at Oxford Unviersity, taught mathematics at Cambridge University and spent the early part of his career in underwater weapons research. Later in his career he took a 1st class honours degree in Psychology from London University

Hassan Hoque Hassan completed a BA History and MA Social Anthropology at the School of Oriental and African Studies. Managed initial workshops with young people identifying a demand for improving access to the digital sector. Experienced in start up businesses and advised tech start ups on user engagement.

Mohammed El-Amin

Mohammed served as the Student Union President at Tower Hamlets College and has since worked nearly a decade within networking and data systems. He has maintained an active interest in community education and currently manages data security in large financial institution.

Professor Mcowan Peter is Professor of Computer Science at Queen Mary. His research interests are in visual perception, mathematical models for visual processing, in particular motion, cognitive science and biologically inspired hardware and software. Peter has a history of involvement with public engagement, and has worked with CS4FN, an outreach project to enthuse schools about computer science research for many years. He was awarded the 2011 IET Mountbatten Medal for his work in promoting Computer Science to diverse audiences. 

Executive Summary

This report outlines AppsCluster’s understanding of the opportunities and challenges provided by East London’s digital economy. The report also outlines AppsCluster’s vision, mission and a strategic action plan for the first two years of the organisation.

East London’s Digital Economy

This section contains relevant excerpts from a pamphlet titled A Tale of Tech City: The Future of Inner East London’s Digital Economy authored by Rob Whitehead, Emma Vandore, Max Nathan and published by Demos in 29/06/2012. The report is available for download from the Demos website (www.demos.co.uk)

What

Our working definition of the ‘tech sector’ is the ‘digital economy’, as set out by the UK Government (Department for Business Innovation and Skills, Department for Culture Media and Sport, and the Intellectual Property Office, 2010).

The digital economy is comprised of the traditional information and communications technology such as hardware and software maintenance and production; and the ‘digital content’, where shaping and design of text and media are published solely for digital electronics.

Mobile application development is one of the most demanded and fastest growing fields in the world. As mobile devices continue to change the way we do business, communicate, and access news & entertainment, the demand for new and innovative mobile applications is growing at breakneck speeds, much of it being led by consumers and new start ups rather than established businesses.

Where

Inner East London digital cluster has been around since the first dot-com boom in the mid-1990s. Then known as ‘City Fringe’, was already developing a reputation as a community combining creative and business service activities with companies developing digital technologies (Cities Institute, 2011).

Nine Inner East London wards form a ‘rough cluster’, spanning the boroughs of Islington, Hackney, the City of London and Tower Hamlets with three ‘core wards’ – Clerkenwell, Hoxton and Haggerston.

Why its important

The Inner East London hotspot – and London’s digital economy as a whole – is important for a number of reasons:

  • The ‘innovation economy’ has substantial multiplier effects, each job supports up to five jobs elsewhere. These halo effects are large because the digital economy sector is labour-intensive, well-paid, and tend to cluster – amplifying the benefits for those cities with clusters of innovation jobs.
  • London benefits from a bigger digital economy, and digital economy businesses need cities like London to grow
  • Britain’s digital economy already takes the biggest share of national GDP in the G20, and is projected to increase that share by a third by 2016 (Dean et al.,2012). As the UK’s digital economy ‘leader’, London’s experiences today may, in turn, hold lessons for other cities in the future.
  • As an increasing share of manufacturing activity moved into low-cost locations around the world ‘the innovation economy’, creates high-skill activity and high-wage employment opportunities. 
  • Cities offer ‘agglomeration economies’ that help companies become more productive. Advantages include a critical mass of workers and infrastructure, and rich networks of suppliers and collaborators which might include venture capital and angel finance, specialist law firms and accountants. 
  • Cities help new ideas to form and flow, so that firms and workers can learn from each other.
  • Knowledge spillovers work across industries, as well as within them (Jacobs, 1969). Big, economically diverse cities like London actively help one part of the economy to cross pollinate others.
  • Knowledge spillovers aren’t just about geographical proximity – rather, local networks play critical roles in influencing the local flow

History of AppsCluster

AppsCluster’s work was initiated in December 2011 through a volunteer action group composed of Angela Chan, Abdul Hamid, Asma Nahar and Hassan Hoque.

The first course on Mobile Application Development consisting of two units: Android and iOS was developed between December 2011 and May 2012.

The Course was accredited by Open College Network as a level three course in June 2012.

AppsCluster delivered its first pilot course on a voluntary basis with in kind contribution from Tower Hamlets Community Housing and Tower Hamlets Ideas Stores in October 2012. 

PEST Analysis

Political
  1. “Our ambition is to bring together the creativity and energy of Shoreditch and the incredible possibilities of the Olympic Park to help make East London one of the world’s great technology centres” (David Cameron, November 2010)
  2. London mayor Boris Johnson unveil plans to overhaul Tech City. The Old Street roundabout is getting £50 million investment to become Europe’s biggest civic indoor space, hosting classrooms, workshops and the latest 3D printing technology. (6 December 2012)
  3. To encourage investment in startups the UK government has launched SEIS scheme which provide income tax relief of 50% for individuals who invest in digital technology startups
Economic
  1. As an  increasing share of manufacturing activity moved into low-cost locations around the world ‘the innovation economy’, creates high-skill activity and high-wage employment opportunities.
  2. Britain’s digital economy already takes the biggest share of national GDP in the G20, and is projected to increase that share by a third by 2016
  3. In 2009 the UK was the third largest exporter of ICT services after Ireland and the USA.
  4. Over the financial year 2010-11, the UK attracted one third of Foreign Direct Investments in Europe within the software sector, 54% of the investment was in companies located in London.
  5. The most common issue cited by companies in East London Tech City is the under-supply of skilled developers and specialist staff in the UK
Social
  1. 52% of UK mobile phone users have a smartphone
  2. 28% of internet usage is from a mobile phone
  3. Mothers day 2012 – 50% of all online sales came from mobile devices
  4. Computing A-levels taken have declined by 60% since 2003 and now represent just 0.5% of all A-levels taken across the UK.
  5. Despite a 13% resurgence from 2007 to 2009, the number of all applicants to Computing and Telecoms related Higher Education courses in the UK has declined by 44% since 2001
  6. 75 per cent of British children online, aged 8 to 15, are very or fairly interested in making their own projects online, like creating their own online game, website or phone app and two thirds (67 per cent) are either very or fairly interested in learning to program and write computer code. But only 3 per cent say they already know how to.
Technology
  1. After Apple started the app explosion in 2008 most apps were primarily client-side code developed using Objective C and the Apple Development Kit. Today most Apps require server-side code and this demands developers with skills in using PHP, Python or Ruby, especially in building Web APIs using RESTful web services, XML and JSON parsing and a deep understanding of Web 2.0
  2. There will continue to be a wide choice of competing Smartphone platforms (Apple, Android, Windows Mobile, BBM). This will create demand for programmers familiar with C++ as proficiency in this language would enable the production of mobile apps for multiple platforms
  3. Mobile device Specs will get ‘speccier’, screens will get bigger, CPUs will get faster, and new technologies such as NFC (Near Field Communication) will become more common creating demand for innovation in mobile applications.

Appscluster Vision & Mission

AppsCluster Vision To develop individuals to be creators, not just consumers of digital technologies.

AppsCluster Mission

    • To identify and develop courses that address current and emerging skill gaps in the digital economy 
    • To deliver structured and accessible courses that address current and emerging skill gaps in the digital economy 
    • To support individuals initiate and sustain enterprise and employment opportunities in the digital economy

Organisational Competencies

Organisational Competencies Which core organisational skills and competencies are vital to achieving our mission Awareness and research: to anticipate what will be required for the organization’s success in the future.
  • Business acumen: applying commercial rigour, risk management when exploring new markets opportunities.
  • Leadership and management: leading, inspiring and motivating staff and students to own and deliver on AppsCluster’s vision
  • Expertise: Demonstrate essential skills for a position, share expertise, support others in learning and skill building and commit to ongoing professional development
  • Localise: exploit both place-specific local resources as well as external, world-class knowledge to strengthen local competitiveness
  • Resourcefulness The ability to deal resourcefully, creatively, imaginatively, self-reliably with unusual problems, difficult situations, or unanticipated opportunities.
  • Organisational Values

    Organisational Values What core organisational values must be imbedded in our organisation to establish a culture capable of achieving our Mission? 
  • Diversity – commitment to cultivating a diverse team with business, education and community expertise
  • Communication – commitment to engaging staff, students and partners in strategic planning
  • Freedom for Initiative of Employees – to make suggestions, develop plans and make decisions
  • Partnerships – Being explicit about our intentions, values and motivations to create sustainable partnerships
  • Commitment to people – a commitment to personal growth and social recognition for staff, students and partners
  • Action Plan 2013-15

    Mission

    Deliverables

    To identify and develop courses that address current and emerging skill gaps in the digital economy

    1. Develop sustainable partnerships with Tech Hub, Tech City, and companies and individuals working within the digital technology economy

    1. Develop sustainable partnerships with individuals who have specific and relevant subject expertise in further and higher education establishments

    1. Ensure that AppsCluster Board has a balanced representation from business, education and community sectors.

    1. Identify and access suitable statutory, trust and grant funding to enable AppsCluster to develop and evaluate learning material and methods

    1. Develop and accredit a level three course on PHP with a specific focus on its benefits and usage for Mobile Application Development

    1. Develop and accredit a level three course on Python with a specific focus on its benefits and usage for Mobile Application Development

    1. Develop and accredit a level three course on C++ with a specific focus on its benefits and usage for Mobile Application Development

    To deliver structured and accessible courses that address current and emerging skills gaps in the digital economy

    1. Develop sustainable partnerships with schools, colleges, community youth groups in Islington, Hackney, the City of London and Tower Hamlets

    1. Identify and access suitable statutory, trust and grant funding to enable AppsCluster to deliver accessible courses

    1. Deliver current Android & iOS Course at suitable community locations.

    1. Implement a fair charging policy to create a sustainable source of income to be raised from individuals who are in a financial position to pay for an accredited course.

    To support individuals initiate and sustain enterprise and employment opportunities in the digital economy

    1. Develop sustainable partnerships with Tech Hub, Tech City and networks of Angel, Venture Capital funders and Enterprise advice and support groups

    1. Develop sustainable partnerships with relevant professional advisers experienced in the technology sector

    1. Develop sustainable partnerships with organisations experienced in delivering enterprise and employment support.

    1. Develop AppsCluster Labs: a sustainable peer support model to support AppsCluster Alumni to initiate and sustain employment and enterprise opportunities.

    Appendix One: Trends in Programming Languages

     Coding for Multiple Platforms: Table Platforms and compatible languages

    Platforms and compatible languages

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