UK digital tech sector gets £21m boost

Digital tech sector gets £21m boost

The Government has unveiled plans to boost the UK tech sector with a £21m investment to create a new network of regional tech hubs in the Midlands, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

The Government also announced that Tech City UK and Tech North will become a national organisation known as Tech Nation in order to speed up the growth of the UK’s digital companies and clusters.

Some successful companies which have already benefitted from Tech City UK’s work include Just Eat, Zoopla and Funding Circle.

As part of the plans, Tech City UK will provide the opportunity for more than 40,000 people to develop the skills needed to start or grow a digital business as well as offer support for up to 4,000 UK tech businesses through targeted growth programmes.

The Cabinet Minister for Digital, Matt Hancock, said of the project: This new funding is an important part of our plans to make the UK the best place in the world to start and grow a digital business, with the benefits spread right across the country.

“This regional network will accelerate the growth of the digital tech sector, cement the pipeline of talent and spark the next generation of innovative firms to seize the future opportunities of digitisation - bringing jobs, skills and higher productivity to our regions.

Eleven regional hubs will form the backbone of a national network of digital excellence to reflect the country’s standing as a global powerhouse for tech industries and help the Government achieve aims outlined in its Industrial and Digital Strategies.

The funding will also help entrepreneurs in emerging tech sectors, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and fintech, by connecting them to peers and potential investors in other hubs across the country.

Gerard Grech, CEO of Tech City UK, said: “We are thrilled the Government is backing our model which has played an important role in helping the country’s tech firms accelerate their growth.

“Tech Nation will help transform the UK from a series of standalone tech clusters into a powerful national network that will reinforce the UK’s position at the top of global tech rankings.

“This will ensure we continue to be at the forefront of digital innovation, developing tech talent and attracting international investment.

More than 1.4 million people work in the UK’s digital tech sector and jobs are being created at twice the rate of other sectors in the economy.

Average advertised salaries in the sector are £50,000, 30% higher than the national average.

The sector also has a turnover of more than £118 billion and figures on foreign investment published in July found that, in the first half of 2017, there was a record £5.6 billion investment in tech in the UK.

In the face of international competition for this high-value employment industry, Tech Nation will help the UK accelerate the growth of the tech sector.

Samir Desai of Funding Circle, who received support from Tech City UK, said: “Tech City UK has been an excellent advocate for the tech sector, understanding the needs of start-ups and scaling businesses and representing this coherently to Government.

“The programme they deliver is comprehensive and has supported us across a range of issues and business priorities.

The first set of clusters to form Tech Nation will be located in:

Midlands - Birmingham

Scotland - Edinburgh and Glasgow

Northern Ireland - Belfast

Wales - Cardiff

Greater London - London