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Tech Check

Our friends at the New Hampshire High Technology Council check in with a look at how our high tech sector measures up as we begin 2015. -Ed.

 
Our tech companies are optimistic regarding near term growth, with 58 percent expecting improvement for the sector over the next six months and 71 percent expecting individual company growth. Yet we are bearish on the global economy, with only 28 percent expecting growth. Where do they expect to see this growth? The top four areas are investments in new business and product lines, technology expenditures, marketing and advertising, and staff training and professional development. Which sectors expect to see the most growth? There were four that stood out – software and application development, advanced manufacturing, energy technology/cleantech, and cybersecurity.

A check on tech in NH

A check on tech in NH

When asked what could inhibit growth, the top concern for New Hampshire companies was access to credit/capital, with 48 percent of respondents expressing concern as compared to 23 percent nationally. The biggest change from the 2013 results was this concern around accessing capital, which was at 33 percent and grew to 48 percent in just one year. Other concerns included downward trends in pricing, unexpected shocks to their market, lack of confidence in the market, and talent shortage.

Much has been made over the concern for skilled workers. Drilling down in this area and getting specific information on what skills our companies need today and foresee needing in the near term is a high priority for the NHHTC. In this survey, 78 percent of respondents have a moderate or significant shortage of skilled workers, a number this is consistent with the Northeast and the country as a whole. The good news is that 55 percent of respondents plan to hire for new positions in the next year while only 10 percent plan to reduce staff. Both numbers improved significantly over 2013 but the hiring statistic does lag behind the national average of 63 percent.

When it comes to public policy, the top five areas for public policy action in NH are as follows: better access to capital; access to state level funding for innovation; support STEM education in higher education; and concern about taxes and regulation. On the taxation/regulation issue 33 percent believe that corporate tax rates are generally too high on businesses as compared to 26 percent nationally.

For those thinking of starting a business in the region, the Northeast ranked the highest at 48 percent in terms of being a top tier location for tech startups, however New Hampshire was only viewed as a top tier location by 17 percent of respondents while 57 percent gave it a mid tier ranking. Two factors rose to the top in terms of what does make New Hampshire attractive – the quality of life at 80 percent and the entrepreneurship/innovation ecosystem at 60 percent, both well above national averages.

The NHHTC will be using this data and other information to craft a set of legislative initiatives and an annual report card on our tech sector. We will also be looking to collaborate with other business groups such as the new Live Free and Start initiative, the BIA and chambers of commerce to find common ground and support legislation that can advance our sector. Our goal is to make sure we are doing everything possible to promote and grow our tech sector, reduce barriers to growth, and find better ways to access capital and the human resources needed to support our economy in 2015 and beyond. Happy New Year.

Matt Cookson
NHHTC Executive Director

Paul Mailhot
NHHTC Chairman of the Board of Directors

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