Tech Nation report 2019: Eastern investment booms as Britain’s tech economy thrives

The Tech Corridor region is playing a key role in the UK's booming tech economy, according to the Tech Nation 2019 report.

The report, which takes the temperature of the UK tech industry, found that the 19,090 tech companies in the Eastern region generated turnover of £8.33bn in the last year, making it the third most productive region in the country. Tech firms here employ 89,000 people, with average productivity of £101,000 per person.

What’s more, it also highlights the rapid increase in investment into the Eastern region, with a 206 per cent bump in capital investment in tech firms here over the last 12 years, the highest growth rate in the country over that period.

Linn Clabburn, programme director of the Cambridge Norwich Tech Corridor, said: “The Tech Nation report highlights the importance of the East to the UK’s thriving tech economy.

“Our world-leading research centres in Cambridge and Norwich are undoubtedly a big draw for businesses and investors, but the rapid growth of funding into the region is testament to the innovative, ambitious companies based throughout the Tech Corridor tackling the big issues facing society around food, energy, medicine and mobility.

“The Cambridge Norwich Tech Corridor partnership is supporting this thriving ecosystem through a programme that helps tech companies access funding and the best talent, as well as building on local supply chains. We look forward to driving the next wave of growth in what is fast becoming one of Europe’s tech hot-spots.”

Collaboration is key

Firms in Cambridge’s tech cluster attracted £583m in new funding in the last year, making it the second most popular UK destination for investors behind London.

James Parton is managing director of the Bradfield Centre, the tech hub and co-working space at Cambridge Science Park. He said: “For me, opportunities in Cambridge lie in strengthening collaboration. That applies at the city level, in encouraging the overlap in sectors like data science and biotech (for example).

“At a regional and national level there are initiatives like the Cambridge–Milton Keynes–Oxford Arc and the Cambridge Norwich Tech Corridor, internationally demonstrated by the growing Cambridge relationship with China.”

John Fagan, CTO at Norwich-based Axon Vibe, which develops mobility technology for smart cities, added: “We have a highly connected, passionate and engaged tech and creative community in Norwich, which is a great place to work and live. Every year its reputation is growing as a thriving tech cluster. We continue to invest and grow our team there, in addition to our international HQ. We find that staff retention is very high in Norwich.”

The UK picture

Uk tech firms attracted £6.3bn in investment last year, the highest total in Europe. It is fourth in the world for scaleup investment after US, China and India, and employs five per cent of the world’s high-value tech workforce. Particular strengths include fintech, where the UK leads the way globally.

Eileen Burbidge, partner at Passion Capital and chair of Tech Nation commented: “The UK has an incredibly pivotal role in the global tech scene. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Fintech sector where the UK is ranked number one in the world; an enviable position that has been established with decades of hard work, entrepreneurial talent, innovation and supportive policymakers. I’m confident that we have all the ingredients needed for continued success and even greater acceleration of the tech sector here in the UK.”

Read the full report here.