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Cornwall’s software industry is thriving. In 2016, the region’s cluster was recognised by the UK’s Tech Nation report as achieving the 2nd highest level of growth in the UK, exceeding London by over 50%.
One of the region’s high-growth technology businesses is outsource Software Company Headforwards, its innovative approach to development provides market-leading software solutions to clients across the globe. Their disruptive business model focuses on using some of the most advanced methodologies for developing software – improving quality outcomes and reducing costs.

Cornwall Trade and Investment’s Brand Consultant Sophie, met with Founding Director Toby Parkins to discover how; with a global demand for developers at an all-time high, his company is able to attract talent from around the world. “The team is made up of 19 nationalities and two thirds of our staff are from outside of Cornwall. We attract people because we are able to offer first and foremost, very high quality jobs that use next generation approaches to building software.”

Agile excellence is at the core of the business, enabling the team to develop software in an extremely efficient way. The “agile” work process is championed by hundreds of companies around the world and disrupts the traditional approach to project management by prioritising individuals, customer collaboration and responsiveness to change. “From a professional perspective our employees gain a real career enhancement by learning how to work with the best tools available in the industry.” This approach, combined with a business model that is focused on people and collaboration, is what makes Headforwards different.

Teamwork is crucial for delivering great value software. “From a value perspective and culturally, it’s less about the individual and more about the ability to collaborate and combine skill sets. If a group of people are unable to work together effectively, we simply will not produce winning results.” Headforwards create teams of highly skilled professionals based on their clients requirements. Their teams work collaboratively which enables the team to develop the highest quality software.

More broadly, collaboration between businesses has played a key part in the success of Cornwall’s software industry. Organisations such as Software Cornwall have galvanised the region’s tech community, positioning it as a global force fuelled by next generation software companies. The two-day Agile on the Beach conference attracts delegates from around the world to network and learn. “Agile on the Beach brings world class speakers and the best knowledge to our doorstep. We then apply these learnings to our professional work practices with the aim of creating jobs here for people that add real value.”

The benefits of working at Headforwards are by no means restricted to office hours. “From a professional perspective it’s a great opportunity and then from a lifestyle perspective employees are able to take advantage of all the benefits that come from living in Cornwall, two key factors being lower living costs than London and minimal crime rates. We view this as a massive advantage when it comes to attracting talent and we leverage that when recruiting. As a result our team is made up of professionals from all over the world who have relocated in order to live and work in Cornwall.” The quality of life that can be achieved in Cornwall is well documented: a vibrant, creative culture, fantastic food and drink and a breath-taking landscape all contribute towards making life in Cornwall a huge draw for businesses looking to achieve a balance between working life and personal time.

Digital infrastructure has played a key role in the success of Cornwall’s Creativetech sector. “The region has got a massive advantage from a connectivity perspective. It’s pretty hard, not impossible, but pretty hard to find an office in Cornwall without Superfast Broadband. I’ve met with people from some quite big companies when attending events who ask ‘what do you do for connectivity?’ When I tell them I have 300mb at home, well that tends to come as a bit of a shock.”

Cornwall’s Creativetech sector is expanding at an exponential rate and competing on a global scale. Businesses like Headforwards are able to take advantage of some of the best connectivity in the world. Not only that, but by embracing the unique attributes that the region has to offer they have been able to conquer the challenge of recruitment facing the entire software industry worldwide. The unique aspect for Cornwall (and its main advantage) is that the region is not overwhelmed by software development companies, especially in comparison to larger cities where the density of competing businesses is huge.

Headforwards place some of the success of their recruitment campaigns on their forward thinking approach to software development and an unrivalled lifestyle for their employees, the other reason for the success and high staff retention rates can be attributed to the core values of the company and the sense of community throughout the region.

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