Newbury named top tech town in UK

Cornelia Mascio
Mag 17, 2018

Jobs in the tech sector rose five times the rate of the rest of the economy.

The study found that the digital tech sector is worth almost £184 billion to the United Kingdom economy, up from £170bn in 2016.

British digital tech companies raised £4.5bn in venture capital investment during the year, according to Pitchbook figures, nearly double the previous year and far ahead of European rivals, France and Germany.

In comparison, the entire country's GDP grew by 1.7 per cent in the same time.

The annual FT1000 list of Europe's fastest-growing companies, released last week, shows that since previous year the UK's position has slipped from joint top (with Germany) to third.

And it is not just London that is benefiting. Newbury, in Berkshire, is home to Vodafone's headquarters and has a higher "digital density" than anywhere else in the United Kingdom, as companies seek to expand beyond London. These include Reading, Basingstoke, Burnley, Slough and Heathrow, as well as Telford, Cheltenham, Stafford, Huntingdon and Swindon.

Newbury also put in a strong performance in terms of productivity of local tech ecosystems.

Gerard Grech, CEO of Tech Nation, said this was the first major milestone for Tech Nation.

The rest of the Tech Nation report outlines how the UK's large tech industry, which has benefitted from the access to talent afforded by European Union membership, continues to grow. What started as Tech City is increasingly Tech Nation.

Digital tech companies in London are "the most connected in Europe", second only to Silicon Valley for global connections. "We need to make the most of that, as our new relationship with the European Union will undoubtedly force us to be even more adaptive, innovative and ambitious", he said.

Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Matt Hancock said: "Tech Nation 2018 highlights the extent to which the digital tech sector is providing new energy to the whole economy". A quarter of the world's entrepreneurs say that they have a significant relationship with two or more people in London.

"This is a huge success story for the United Kingdom but we also want to make sure that the benefits of the digital tech boom are reaching every corner of the United Kingdom, so that we can build a Tech Nation that works for everyone", he added. Some 83% of clusters are affected by access to talent, making that the most common challenge.

The digital tech sector in the United Kingdom is booming, employment is high and new tech hubs are cropping up across the nation, according to Tech Nation's 2018 report.

On Brexit, the survey revealed that companies outside the capital and Cambridge, which historically have relied less heavily on overseas talent to fill job vacancies, are less concerned about Brexit. Perhaps unsurprisingly, AI is a key aspect of the tech sector, accounting for 16% of the top 400 United Kingdom tech meetups.

Another challenge facing the industry is in recruiting more women. Black, Asian and Ethnic Minorities (BAME) account for 15 percent of digital technology workers, compared to 10 percent across all United Kingdom jobs. The UK also invests the third most capital in digital tech companies, lagging behind the U.S. and China. Over 70% of respondents think the number of digital tech businesses in their local area will rise over the next 12 months and over 90% think that the scale of digital tech businesses in their local area will either expand or stay the same.

The UK's digital technology sector is still outpacing the rest of the country's economy.

Eileen Burbidge, chair of Tech Nation, said it is crucial "to keep supporting this sector and give British companies the best chance they can to grow and scale".

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