SOUTHAMPTON civic, business, and academic leaders will today discuss how the city could become a centre for artificial intelligence and smart automation.

As part of Southampton City Council’s Future of Work in Southampton inquiry, the port city’s digital economy growth will also be a topic on the agenda.

This discussion was tabled, the authority says, after the panel was informed that in the UK, jobs in the digital tech sector rose 13.2% between 2014 and 2017.

They were also told that new automation technologies in areas like artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics will also create some totally new jobs in the digital technology area adding an additional £232 billion to the UK economy by 2030, making it one of the nation’s biggest commercial opportunities.

Hence, experts will discuss how Southampton could benefit from this.

Civic chiefs say that the city has recently been identified as a technology ‘Super Cluster’ based on the level, concentration and growth of tech sector employment in the city.

The meeting – which is open to the public, will see the panel consider what more can be done to help support the growth of the digital technology sector in Southampton enabling the city to become a centre for AI, smart automation and the digital economy.

A number of guests have been invited to the inquiry meeting to inform the discussion.

They include Thomas Frame, managing director of digital consultancy Etch Group which only last week expanded its portfolio with the acquisition of the Hampshire agency Moov2.

Founded in 2006 by Mr Frame, Etch Group is a networked collective of specialist agencies whose national clients include Mind, Old Mutual, Maserati, the BBC and British Airways.

The acquisition of Holbury-based Moov2 follows on from the buy out of London-based digital agency Big Radical in 2017.

Among the other guests invited are:

• Sue Daley – Tech UK’s Head of Programme for Cloud, Data, Analytics and AI for. Tech UK are the representative body for technology companies in the UK

• David Bream – Director, Southampton SETsquared, University of Southampton

• Catherine Lee – Director of Research, Innovation & Enterprise, Southampton Solent University

• Denise Edghill – Interim Director for Growth, Southampton City Council

• Jeff Walters – Economic Development Manager, Southampton City Council

The meeting starts at 6pm in Conference Room 3 at the Civic Centre.