Tech Nation’s 2020, report launched today shows that the UK is now cementing its place as one of the best places to invest in tech, with a 44% increase in VC investment from 2018 – 2019 and a 40% growth in the tech work force, now at nearly three million. Additionally, the report highlights that tech clusters across the country are going from strength to strength and that the UK is taking a lead in key emerging technologies such as AI and blockchain.
The tech sector is the UK’s modern success story, with DCMS figures showing that from 2017 – 2018 the sector grew nearly six times faster than the rest of the economy. Tech Nation’s 2020 report further highlights this success showing that that the tech sector is a firmly established part of the UK’s economy, employing three million people.
The report also shows that investment in UK tech grew 44%, to a record high of £10.1 billion in 2019, ensuring that the UK retains its place as one of the best places in the world for tech investment, only behind the United States and China. Furthermore, investment in UK tech companies that are pursuing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals has doubled in the last year, nine times larger than in 2013, highlighting the UK as a major player in tech for good.
The UK is now well on its way to become a truly tech nation, with large tech clusters now established across the country. Five cities across the UK are now in the top 20 European cities for venture capital (VC) investment—Bristol, Cambridge, London, Manchester, and Oxford. Manchester is now Europe’s fastest growing tech hub, with tech investment growing by 277%, from £48 million in 2019 to £181 million in 2019.
One of the most positive features of the report is the growth in investment across all stages of VC investment. This shows that the UK is not just a great place to start a tech business, but to scale and develop the business in a strong domestic market. Growth equity grew 51%, and Series C investment and onwards grew by 71%.
Importantly the UK also remains a leader in key emerging tech, with the third highest levels of investment in emerging tech and the only country of the top five for Artificial Intelligence (AI) investment to see consistent year-on-year growth over the past five years. The UK is also among the top five destinations for investment in cybersecurity, blockchain and virtual reality, showing that we continue to take a lead in developing the technologies that will power the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
The recent UK budget contained a number of positive measures to help continue the growth of the sector. However, there is now a global race between countries to become a world leading tech economy. We saw very positive progress from Government in the recent Budget but more can be done to secure the medium and long-term competitiveness of the UK tech sector. These will be crucial and we must avoid complacency as a result of our current success. techUK will continue to work with Government to ensure we continue this growth and the tech sector remains the UK’s modern success story.
However, for now the tech sector like all other sectors must help the Government, NHS, workers and communities to manage the impact of COVID-19. This is already happening with tech firms across the UK have deploying their expertise to combat the spread of COVID-19—whether using AI to track the spread of the virus, enabling remote working through video conferencing, or assisting the NHS by informing the public and combating misinformation. techUK is pleased to see our members taking a lead here and we will continue to support the efforts to support these efforts.