Technology has transformed our lives, communities, cultural experiences and our economy. But the UK isn’t just a consumer of innovative technology, we’re a creator too. British industry has quickly become a key player in the tech world and this was plain to see during my visit to the technology cluster, Tech City, in East London.
In just five years, Tech City has grown to become a world leading technology hub.
Nestled around the shops in Brick Lane, I met with Gerard Grech, chief executive of government-backed organisation Tech City UK, who provides support to tech and digital companies across this cluster and the country. They’re currently working with more than 100 companies through various schemes and initiatives.
I also met with a number of tech companies to discuss this growing industry. Touring collaborative community working spaces such as the Central Working offices and areas provided by Google at their Campus in the heart of East London, I spoke to passionate and committed entrepreneurs who were keen to share their knowledge, skills and ideas. Central Working founder James Layfield provided an insightful take on this exciting industry.
And what an exciting industry to be a part of; the UK’s digital economy is growing at a staggering rate. Between 2011 and 2014, our digital economy grew 32 per cent faster than the rest of the UK economy. That significant growth means this booming sector now employs 1.56m people and contributes 10 per cent of GDP.
The UK remains one of the best places in the world to start and grow a business. London has been ranked as the number one city in Europe for supporting both startups and scale ups, and is home to one of the key financial technology capitals of the world – with more people employed in the sector than any other city worldwide.
The Department for International Trade has developed a close relationship with Tech City UK to help further develop this ambitious sector. We are supporting tech companies as they realise their goals for a global business and we are working hard to attract investment into the UK to ensure we remain the leading European destination for foreign direct investment.
That’s why schemes such as Tech City UK’s Future Fifty are so important. Under this programme, successful applicants are offered networking opportunities across the sector, including vital advice to link companies with investors and capital markets.
This is just the beginning. We know we can still do more – there is huge untapped potential out there.
Though the Tech City cluster is in London, this industry is not restricted to the capital city. From Belfast to Bournemouth there are many similar tech hubs spanning across the UK, representing a diverse range of tech businesses. We’re unlocking the growth of the North further through Tech North, the sister organisation to Tech City UK. By supporting businesses up and down country, we can ensure our tech economy continues to thrive.
My visit left me feeling inspired by the wide range of innovative technologies being developed by a highly skilled workforce who are proud to call London their home. Their talent is the reason the UK’s tech industry is a world leader.