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Bermuda full of potential, says tech boss

Positive outlook: Stuart Lacey, the founder and CEO of Trunomi

Bermuda has potential as a destination for technology companies, according to Stuart Lacey, founder of Bermudian-based technology firm Trunomi.

Mr Lacey praised the Bermuda Government’s move towards establishing a technology hub on the island, but warned that the right infrastructure needs to be in place to ensure success.

“I absolutely believe it could succeed,” Mr Lacey said. “There needs to be another pillar for Bermuda.

“With the right opportunities set up, and with the backing of a larger company, I think we could attract the right kind of companies here.”

Last month, Government released a request for information about the potential to create a tech hub in Southside.

The project is intended to help build the economy, with the RFI described as the first stage in creating new industry on the island.

Mr Lacey said that Bermuda has several advantages as a destination for tech companies, including a strong financial infrastructure and a time zone directly between London and Silicon Valley.

However, he said that tax changes in the US or the UK could make a move to Bermuda less advantageous.

Mr Lacey said: “There’s no guarantee for the future of the tax benefits we currently enjoy.

“One of the other risks being here is the companies have to recognise that making a commitment to Bermuda means making a commitment to the Bermudian people. They can’t just set up a PO box.

“I don’t see a big technology company moving to Bermuda to start here, but rather I could see such companies making Bermuda a part of their overall strategy.”

Another challenge could be the high cost of business in Bermuda.

Mr Lacey said: “A lot of startups rely on educated young people looking to the future who are willing to work for long hours to be part of the startup knowing that they are not immediately going to make a lot of money.

“We do get those type of people coming out of large universities, and without that it is hard to be competitive. That is a challenge.

“Obviously, with work at the Bermuda College and other learning institutions, I think we could start to bridge that gap.”

Mr Lacey added that building a tech industry on the island would encourage some Bermudians who have left for work to return.

“There are Bermudians who have left who will want to come back to Bermuda’s shores and be part of that story,” he said.

“When Africa made a turn eight years ago, there was a massive repatriation of talent, people who wanted to be a part of that story.”

Mr Lacey said tech hubs have been established across the world, and Government had taken the right approach by putting out an RFI.

The RFI, available online, says that it is intended to obtain information on “visions/concepts, products and services” for a tech hub.

The RFI says: “The hub will be a gathering, working and learning place for startup businesses, and will provide a physical venue.

“At the tech hub, the members will also use and have access to the Government’s regulatory environment, tax advice and other government services.

“The hub will also serve as a business incubator for introducing, developing and including young people in the tech industry.”

Mr Lacey said a support system would need to be easily accessible to ensure the tech hub’s success.

Mr Lacey said: “In order for any tech hub to be successful, it will require significant and specialised support infrastructure such as transport, accounting, banking, legal, catering, restaurants and hotels in the immediate vicinity.

“As such, when considering Southside, it will need to be carefully measured against other locations on the island.

“This also needs to be reviewed with a view to what the local residents in the Southside area want most in terms of local investment and infrastructure — but this is why it is an RFI, so they can get exactly that kind of feedback.”