Across the western world economies face big structural challenges: growth, productivity, inflation and real wage levels.
The holy grail of economic policy is how to break out of this cycle. As Tech Minister, I believe the UK must throw everything behind being a science and tech superpower. Just as our economy was transformed by Thatcher in the 1980s to overcome the sclerosis of the 1970s, so the power of tech can meet the challenges of this decade.
We are well on the way to doing this. In this London Tech Week we are showcasing the UK’s incredible, rapidly-growing tech sector.
According to new figures, UK tech companies raised a record-breaking £12.4bn in private investment in the first five months of this year. It means the UK beats China for the first time and is second only to the US for startup investment raised in 2022 to date. Germany and France trail far behind us.
London has led the charge raising £8.6bn, double Paris and over four times the amount of Berlin. But it’s not just the capital’s tech scene that is thriving. Bristol and Manchester make the top 20 European cities for tech, with Leeds being one of the fastest growing cities for tech jobs in the UK.
Investor attractiveness is just one of the many reasons why these shores are one of the best places to found, grow or float a tech business. The UK has created a staggering 122 “unicorn” companies – firms that have gone from start-up to worth a billion dollars or more. Last year we created a unicorn every 11 days and the UK now has more than France and Germany combined.
Those success stories are creating job opportunities across the country. Hiring for digital sector jobs is at a ten-year high. These are high paid, high-skilled jobs in cutting edge fields that transform people’s lives. Where are the doomsayers who said Brexit would spell the end for UK tech?
We want to double down on this success with our roadmap, a Digital Strategy for the UK, for how we’ll strengthen our position even further.
We are going to make sure our tech businesses have the skills and funding they need to innovate and grow in the future. We are committed to actively growing the UK’s already world-class capabilities and significant R&D investment in future technologies such as AI, advanced semiconductor design and quantum computing.
We clearly have a strong domestic investor market focused on early stage tech firms, but there is more that can be done. We would like to see the UK’s institutional investors, especially pension funds, take a more proactive approach to growth technology investing – as their US cousins do.
Our new digital markets regulator will protect our new and diverse startups from the unfair practices of a few dominant tech giants. Seizing the benefits of Brexit, we will cut pointless red tape and paperwork to reduce burdens on businesses so they can harness the true potential of data.
We will continue to innovate, upskill and invest so that we can boost jobs, spread prosperity and level up places right across the UK. We will meet the economic challenges of our age, just as this great country has before.