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London Tech Week: Why tech is central to the UK economy

Tech-Week

The UK – London in particular – remains Europe’s top hub for tech innovation and investment. So it’s no surprise the capital is eager to show off its tech prowess during this year’s London Tech Week.

The event, which runs throughout the week, is an opportunity for the capital to showcase the very best of its tech sector to the rest of the world. With everything from artificial intelligence and automation to 5G and wellbeing on display and in discussion, London is keen to prove that any clouds gathering on the horizon will not jeopardise London’s position as a leading global tech hub for investors.

Now in its fifth year, London Tech Week has come a long way. Put it this way: five years ago the word fintech didn’t even exist.

Throughout the week, more than 200 events are taking place across the city. London Tech Week is designed to celebrate success, bring together the tech community and lay clear plans for the future.

As the rest of the world looks to London, the UK tech scene is stronger than ever. Research by London & Partners revealed that more than £5 billion of venture capital funding has been injected into UK tech companies since 2016. That’s more than France, Germany and Sweden combined.

According to the Tech Nation 2018 report, the digital tech sector is worth almost £184 billion to the UK economy, and tech is expanding 2.6 times faster than the rest of the UK’s economy.

London is the second most connected place for tech in the world, after Silicon Valley. But this tech growth is not limited to the capital alone – the report identifies 16 towns across the UK (nicknamed Silicon Suburbs) with a higher proportion of digital tech employment than the UK average.

The tech boom has brought with it benefits that stretch beyond the entrepreneurs and developers. The digitally-driven gentrification of areas such as Shoreditch has created a flood of non-tech jobs. Plus, the highly skilled, well-paid jobs within the tech economy are precisely the kind of roles every city is keen to attract.

It’s fair to say that when it comes to tech, London has it nailed. But will that still be the case once Brexit is with us?

Businesses do not like uncertainty, and until now uncertainty has been central to the Brexit negotiations. There are few immediate benefits for tech businesses when the UK leaves the EU. Some of the key concerns include London’s ability to attract and retain tech talent, access to finance and regulatory divergence.

To remain successful beyond Brexit, the capital’s tech scene will have to evolve. This means looking to new markets for investment and customers, and finding new ways to secure talent – investing in training rather than simply buying talent from overseas, for example.

A key challenge moving forward is getting more young people to consider a career in tech. It is vital that we arm the next generation with the digital skills they will need in the future. Another challenge is increasing the number of women working in the tech industry, currently around 15-20%.

Get it right, and London will be a world leader in all things fintech, creative tech, deep tech and more, producing tech unicorns along the way.

If you would like to find out more about tech talent in London or beyond, get in touch with the team at Talent International today.