EDITORIAL – Enterprise City: Home of Cayman’s growing tech industry

Guests at last week’s Alternative Investment Summit got a preview of the future as experts shared insights about artificial intelligence and other radical changes to be expected as we approach “The Augmented Age.”

As the world wades deep into technologies and capabilities that were until recently the stuff of science fiction, Cayman must continue to position itself to ride the wave of change.

As Premier Alden McLaughlin said in his welcome address to delegates at the two-day summit, titled “Wired – the rise of alternative investments in a digital age,” “We need to ensure that we not only fight to keep the business and the economy that we have today – but look at how the business model that we have built can be adapted to attract the new emerging business – including financial technology, or Fintech.”

That is why we are encouraged to see that in Cayman’s evolving economy, Cayman’s Enterprise City is staying ahead of the curve.

In its six years, the knowledge- and technology-focused Special Economic Zone has grown to include more than 225 global companies from nearly two dozen countries. CEO Charlie Kirkconnell expects that in the next five years, there will be more than 500 businesses in the Zone, with roughly 60 percent of those operating from within Cayman Tech City – the home for technology-based enterprises such as e-commerce, Fintech, software development, computer programming, data services, and the like.

In advance of last month’s “d10e” conference at The Ritz-Carlton (an event that was co-hosted by Cayman Tech City), Mr. Kirkconnell said that blockchain-focused companies have accounted for about one-quarter of the growth in the Special Economic Zone over the past seven months, as blockchain and cryptocurrency companies establish a physical presence in Cayman.

Theirs is only one segment of all the work being done by the startups and other businesses in the SEZ (which includes enterprises clustered around two other “cities”: Cayman Commodities & Derivatives City and Cayman Maritime & Aviation City).

The Zone’s mission – to be a growth platform for international companies – can seem a bit vague from a distance. But clearly, it has enticed large numbers of knowledge-based entrepreneurs to open their doors in the zone’s office and co-working space. Their efforts bring a needed diversity to our economy.

They are attracted by Cayman’s strong IT infrastructure, protections for intellectual property, and tax benefits, and also by the synergies to be had by working in “activity hubs that enable like-minded individuals to easily socialize and collaborate,” as Mr. Kirkconnell characterizes the arrangement.

We imagine that draw will only become stronger with the long-awaited opening of Enterprise City’s new 53-acre campus.

Before the end of this year, ground will break on the first phase of that campus, Enterprise City’s marketing manager, Kaitlyn Elphinstone, told the Compass. The first phase of the project will include three office buildings totaling more than 60,000 square feet.

It will be a brick-and-mortar testament to our evolving digital future.

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