Has the UK become the best place in Europe for tech start-up companies?

With a new tech company created here every 50 minutes in an industry employing 2.1m people, it appears that the UK is becoming a great place to launch a startup company, especially if it’s a tech one – and new Government measures are about to make the climate even more favourable…

There’s arguably never been a better time to launch a startup company in the UK – especially if it’s a tech one, because we’re at the cusp of a new era with the Government having taken on board the need to create the kind of culture in which innovation can flourish.

At London Tech Week this week (mid-June) Prime Minister Therese May met some cutting-edge companies who see the UK as the best place on the planet to run a tech business. That covers huge inward investment like this:

  • Salesforce, who are invests of $2.5bn in the UK over the next five years, which will include the opening of a second UK data centre in 2019
  • Mubadala, who are launching £300m European investment fund based in the UK
  • NTT data who are investing £41m to open a new office and Innovation Centre, creating up to 200 jobs over the next three years

It’s all positive stuff and sounds very much like an answer to the pleas for support for new firms to start and for small firms to grow.

More than 180 tech founders, entrepreneurs and investors were at a reception at Downing Street during Tech Week, celebrating the UK’s position as a world-leading destination for tech investment.

It would appear that Britain is leading Europe in tech investment. Amazon announced the creation of 2,500 jobs at the beginning of June, and Big Commerce promised to open its first European office in London this year.

Show me the money
Naturally, it’s all about money, though isn’t everything? But Britain scores there too, because last year, British tech businesses attracted $7.8bn of funding, almost double the amount from 2016, compared to France and Germany’s combined total of $6bn.

And British Business Investments – the existing commercial arm of the British Business Bank – will be the cornerstone a small number of large scale, private sector managed funds of funds, intended to create patient investment into high potential businesses.  A ‘Request for Proposals’ to manage the first phase of these funds (up to £500m) will be issued early next year.

And what’s more, Mrs May has made promises that will mean tech companies benefit from government funding, and greater access to talent and data under new plans.

These include:

  • Creation of a new £2.5bn for the British Business Bank in response to the Patient Capital Programme, which is expected to attract a further £5bn in private investment, to support UK companies with high growth potential to access the long-term investment they need to grow and go global
  • The launch of a new Start-Up Visa for entrepreneurs next spring, replacing a visa route exclusively for graduates, opening it up to talented business founders. This will include accelerators playing a role in the endorsement of candidates
  • Appointment of Roger Taylor as Chair of the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation, alongside a consultation on the role of the Centre – a key part of plans for a new National Data Strategy
  • Opening up key parts of the Ordnance Survey’s valuable geospatial data to small businesses for free to boost competition in the digital economy
  • And creation of two new Tech Hubs in Brazil and South Africa, to build innovative partnerships and develop skills, capability and business networks in these markets

Investing in the future
Mrs May said: “The measures will allow innovative British start-ups to invest in their future – and in the UK – by hiring more skilled people, expanding their business and exporting their expertise across the world. It’s a great time to be in tech in the UK, and our modern Industrial Strategy will drive continued investment, ensuring the nation flourishes in the industries of the future and creating more high-paying jobs.”