London has always been at the centre of innovation. There has always been a strong focus on innovation-driven business development, both domestically and globally. Despite British aversions to taking risks and an often paralytic fear of talking ourselves up, we have developed a strong economy because we encourage innovation.
This strength has been solidified this week by the release of a new report by Tech Nation that reveals that only China and the US outperform us in capital investment in digital tech companies.
London’s digital sector had a staggering £64.1bn turnover last year and it looks set to continue, as London was labelled one of the most globally connected places on earth to run a tech business.
Some 25 per cent of entrepreneurs from across the globe have reported to having at least two major contacts in London, which means in terms of connectedness, we rank only behind Silicon Valley.
London is also teeming with new ideas, producing more than three times as many new businesses as the average for the rest of the UK.
London also boasts one of the most international startup workforces in the world, with 54 percent of the employees of young digital companies having been born outside the U.K.
Overall, the U.K.’s digital businesses are growing sales 2.6-times faster and adding employees at five times the rate of the rest of the economy, highlighting why the government is so interested in promoting the sector.
But new hubs are emerging elsewhere in the UK, with the report highlighting “clusters” of innovation such as the “power path” from London down to Southampton and Portsmouth. Meanwhile Bristol was revealed to be the most productive local tech ecosystem, producing £320,000 per employee.
What this shows us is that the UK has found itself a golden egg in the form of digital technology. As we exit the European Union, we will have a strong advantage over our neighbours. Digital technology must be used as a platform for us to promote ourselves and leverage trade deals as we look towards our future.
We must also look to adapt the way the current system works, we must be encouraging of innovators, from across the globe, to feel like they have a home in the UK. Trade deals should perhaps focus on preferences for skilled migration from the US or China so that we can encourage innovation and growth.
“Our new relationship with the EU will undoubtedly force us to be even more adaptive, innovative and ambitious,” Gerard Grech, chief executive officer of Tech Nation, said in a statement
Additionally, we must looking beyond London. One of the most crucial points of this report is that there are “clusters” of innovators beyond the capital. The US of course has Silicon Valley but tax incentives and grants across the entire country have enabled other areas to grow and have secured the US’s place as an agile economy.
The report shows us that we have an incredibly rich and diverse tech industry and whilst London must continue to grow, so too must other major hubs.
The UK’s tech sector is growing faster than the wider economy, and 2017 was punctuated with a record number of acquisitions and exits. Funding rounds are getting bigger and bolder, and tech startups are sucking up more venture capital than ever.
This is something we have to be proud of. We must use this sector as we move out of the European Union and we must leverage on its success. Brexit is a chance for us to be bigger, bolder, smarter and brighter as we look towards our future.