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The launch of London Tech Week today provides the UK with an excuse to celebrate one of its relatively few truly global success stories. Collaboration between public and private sector organisations over the past decade has helped the UK’s technology industry leap forward, with a string of high-growth small and medium-sized companies making it big on the world stage.
The global technology marketplace remains highly competitive and the UK will need to support its industry if success is to be maintained. Investments announced by the Government this week in areas such as quantum computing, artificial intelligence and big data are therefore welcome. Nevertheless, the UK can already point to a series of achievements that underpin its claims to global leadership in technology. Here are just eight:
Record numbers of unicorns
With a dozen technology companies in the UK having reached unicorn status since last year’s London Tech Week, the country is now home to no fewer than 70 unicorns in the sector. That’s 35 per cent of the total number of unicorn technology sector companies in all of Europe and Israel combined.
London leads Fintech
The UK is now the third most important country in the world for nurturing fast-growing technology businesses. Only the US and China are home to greater numbers of technology unicorns. In Fintech, London is now the world’s second most important city, with 17 unicorns – only the Bay Area has more.
Pipeline in strong shape
The UK’s impressive performance in technology looks set to continue. It has 75 companies on the path to unicorn status, more than twice as many as any other European country. The UK accounts for 30 per cent of the next generation of technology unicorns.
Buoyant investment is a crucial factor in the UK’s performance. There were 13 rounds of venture capital investment valuing businesses at £1bn or more in 2018, as many as Germany, Israel and Switzerland combined. The UK has led Europe on venture capital investment in technology in each of the past five years and the funding pipeline looks strong – new venture capital funds picked up $3.5bn in the UK last year, a record amount.
Government support underpins private investment
The UK Government’s support has underpinned public and private sector initiatives that have generated more than £14bn of capital funding for fast-growing businesses. UK Research and Innovation, the British Business Bank, the Business Growth Fund and the Industrial Strategy have all become vital players in the technology funding ecosystem.
Tech sector is diverse
While the financial services sector is an important focus for many UK-based technology companies, other industries are vital too. Finance now accounts for 20 of the UK’s unicorns, followed by deep tech (nine unicorns), healthcare (eight), retail (six) and industrial (three). In each of these sectors, the UK boasts more unicorns than any of its European competitors.
London shares the spoils
On geographical diversity, London-based technology companies attracted $22.3bn worth of investment last year, but six other cities – Cambridge, Oxford, Bristol, Manchester, Edinburgh and Durham – saw local technology companies raise $500m or more of funding. In addition, Cambridge, Oxford, Manchester, Leeds and Edinburgh, along with London, are each home to at least two unicorn companies.
Job creation multiplies
The UK’s technology sector is a crucial driver of job creation, creating opportunities both for frontline technologists and staff in roles including accounting, legal, marketing, sales and product management. The UK digital sector alone now employs 2.1 million people, with employment growing at a rate of more than 10 per cent a year.
June 10, 2019 at 05:47AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs