On Wednesday 28th January, Ned and Charlotte attended the launch of Digital Oxford.

The central Oxford venue Modern Art Oxford was abuzz with over 300 people and businesses from all over the county who work in, or are involved with, the digital industry.

In a video address, Ed Vaizey, UK Minister for The Digital Economy and MP for Wantage and Didcot, described the county’s flourishing digital scene:

“Oxfordshire has the lot”

“Oxfordshire has everything it needs to have a fantastic technology cluster. It has upfront investment from government, world-class universities and skills, and a thriving start-up scene. It really has got the lot.”

Ed went on to say that when he first downloaded Clumsy Ninja onto his iPhone he hadn’t realised it was created in Oxford by NaturalMotion (more on this later).

Dave Fletcher, Chairman of Digital Oxford, reinforced this point as being the driving force behind DO:

“We started Digital Oxford because we feel our county is underestimated as a place to do digital business.

“We’ve received an amazing level of support at a national and regional level, and we can now move on to celebrate our industry, to look around at how far we’ve come in the past few years, and to decide, together, where we’re headed.”

Torsten Reil talks about NaturalMotion Photography: Fisher Studios

Torsten Reil talks about NaturalMotion
Photography: Fisher Studios

Next up was Nick Appleyard Head of Digital at Innovate UK, who spoke about government initiatives to support the digital industry.

Torsten Reil closed the speeches by wowing the crowd with his story of NaturalMotion’s journey from being a University group, to a multi-million dollar company making ultra high-quality games.

From humble beginnings twelve years ago, Torsten described their challenges, set-backs, successes through to last year, when they sold the business to Zynga for $527 million. They continue to be based in Oxford.

What is Digital Oxford?

Digital Oxford was set up to put Oxfordshire on the map as a global destination for digital business. The idea was borne out of a realisation between local digital agencies White October and Torchbox, that Oxford was being underestimated as a hub for digital activity.

But for a while now, Oxfordshire has secretly been a hotbed of technological activity, with an wealth of talent coming from the University of Oxford and Oxford Brookes; over 3,000 digital businesses, 12,000 digital professionals, 30 monthly meet-ups, 9 business parks, 3 huge tech conferences, and a digital industry worth well in excess of £500 million.

DO aims to showcase Oxford for what it is: a digital centre. Its vision is to promote, influence, inspire and connect people from all over the county with an interest in digital.

The launch on Wednesday demonstrated that it’s well on its way.

How did Zanzi get involved?

We’ve had a long involvement with the digital community in Oxfordshire so we jumped at the chance to come on board and lead the content strategy and production working group.

Since summer last year we’ve been attending regular evenings at White October, contributing to the overall vision of DO and producing content which speaks to Oxfordshire’s digital audiences.

What did Zanzi contribute?

As an Inbound Marketing agency, our day-to-day work involves a lot of content strategy and production. This starts with developing ‘customer personas’ which embody the kinds of people who would be interested a client’s website.

For Digital Oxford, we came up with four personas:

  • Harry, a tech director, looking to recruit a games developer and dissatisfied with recruitment agencies
  • Fiona, a space research manager, looking for networking opportunities in the digital industry
  • Sophie, a graduate jobseeker looking for work in a digital environment
  • Sean, a freelance .Net developer looking to showcase his work and find new opportunities
The DO working group

The DO working group

We developed these personas further to enable us to target the content to suit a range of different visitors, with different goals. And so the words “connect, inspire, influence and promote” became core to DO.

From here we could tailor the site map and the content themes around these values, and produce the content that would not only explain DO and showcase Oxford, but to guide different audiences through the site and on-board.

What’s next for Zanzi and Digital Oxford?

The launch event and its surrounding media publicity has demonstrated that DO is a welcome opportunity for Oxfordshire.

But it doesn’t stop here.

Zanzi will keep attending the working group meet-ups, where we will continue to create blog posts, and upload stories and announcements from the digital community.

We’ll also be reviewing and refreshing the site content to keep it relevant to Oxfordshire’s digital community.


Were you at the launch event? We’d love to know what you thought. If you have any comments, photos, anecdotes or ideas for content, then please use the form below: