As reported by this year’s Tech Nation Report, the U.K. has firmly positioned itself as one of the world’s leading nations for technology innovation in recent years, investing a record-breaking £10.1 billion into tech companies in 2019.
In this article, we pick out some of the key facts and insights presented by The Tech Nation Report 2020, which help us gain an idea of where the U.K. stands with innovation and investment in relation to other leading nations.
- The U.K. is Europe’s top scaling tech nation ahead of countries like France and Germany (in terms of investment).
- Tech investment in Manchester grew from £41m in 2018 to £181m in 2019, making it Europe’s fastest-growing major tech cluster.
- U.K. tech employment makes up 9% of the national workforce, with 2.93m created after growth of 40% in the last two years.
- U.K. cities make up a quarter of Europe’s top 20 cities for tech investment (Manchester, London, Bristol, Oxford and Cambridge).
- Investment in tech companies, which aim to address the UN Sustainable Development Goals, has almost doubled in the last year.
- Artificial intelligence currently claims the highest level of funding globally, with a total investment of £19bn in 2019.
Notable Growth Areas
Fintech is fast becoming a vital part of the U.K.’s tech economy as almost 40% of the U.K.’s unicorn companies (companies valued at more than 1 billion dollars) are fintech firms. The U.K. is ahead of the pack for the level of fintech usage with, with 77% of our total population using fintech products, putting us ahead of the U.S. (46%), France (35%) and Italy (34%).
Investment within the sector rose by over 100% in the last year to £4 billion putting us behind the U.S. only and ahead of Germany, China, Sweden, France and Israel. Our advancement in this area can be attributed to our historic strength in financial services, combined with our policy and regulation. Growth in this area is expected to continue in the coming years.
The demand for jobs in the digital tech economy has increased by 150% between 2015 and 2019, with the most in-demand tech position across all clusters in the U.K. in 2018 recorded as being a software developer, with over 130,000 vacancies recorded that year. However, this upward trend isn’t limited to just digital tech-based roles. In the same year, there were over 230,000 non-tech jobs (like HR or legal professionals) in the tech sector.
To put these figures into perspective, there were nine times more digital tech job vacancies than there were manufacturing vacancies, and 20 times more than creative job vacancies.
At Coderus, we are currently hiring for many positions ourselves.
U.K. health tech companies using artificial intelligence (or AI) have seen huge success, with companies such as Babylon Health (which offers remote health consultations), Healthy.io (smartphone-based medical screening) and Healx (AI powered rare disease research) attracting a total investment of £623.56 million between them.
Alongside AI, the NHS has integrated robotics into services such as surgery, using devices like the robot arm Mako for knee surgeries and the Versius Robot System, and this incorporation of emerging tech into the field of medicine is expected to develop further over the years.
As you may already be aware, all things related to IoT have been continually increasing in prevalence during recent years. Devices such as smartwatches and other wearable devices or apps have clear capacity for use in healthcare and are currently being used in a variety of capacities, from measuring an abnormal heartbeat to detecting a dangerous fall. As of 2019, Europe’s investment in IoT technology reached £9.8 million.
Tech investment into farming and agriculture has risen from £1.06 billion in 2016 to £1.84 billion in 2019 and is seen as one of the most important tech sectors across the globe. Artificial Intelligence plays a key role in driving technological innovation in this sector, alongside robotics, mechanical automation, and IoT devices.
One example of application IoT devices in the agricultural sector is the use of smart farming devices to monitor climate conditions remotely in order to improve efficiency and productivity.
If you’re interested in getting into agritech or have an idea – the next topic for Innovate Suffolk’s Hackathon is “The Outdoors and Agriculture”.
Technology & Social Responsibility
Cleantech refers to technology, which is built with the purpose of improving the current state of the environment and our sustainability practices. There are many large enterprises like Apple, who have already started implementing more sustainable business practices.
U.K. based companies such as Cervest, which use Earth Science AI to predict the repercussions produced by climate volatility.
However, the focus in developing Cleantech is not dictated by AI technology alone, with robotics and IoT also bringing in their fair share of investment, in Europe alone the funding for robotic Cleantech increased from £450,000 in 2017 to £3.59m in 2019.
In a similar vein, the U.K.’s investment into purpose driven tech companies, which aim to address UN Sustainable Development Goals has doubled in the last year to £3.06bn, which indicates a growth of over nine times since 2013.
The 17 goals set out by the UN and adopted by all member states include objectives such as ending poverty, gender equality, action against the effects of climate change and creating sustainable cities and communities.
The U.K.’s Role in the Future of Innovation
In the last five years, 10 countries globally contributed 91% of the world’s emerging tech investment. The U.K. contributed the third largest amount (after the U.S. and China) dedicated to investment in crucial technologies like robotics, cyber security, artificial intelligence, blockchain, IoT, virtual reality and augmented reality.
The report also notes that the U.K.’s long-standing legacy in AI development dates all the way back to World War Two and has been continually supported by our world leading universities.
Looking at AI specifically, the U.K. is the only country out of the top five countries investing in AI (U.S., U.K, China, France and Canada to have a consistently positive year-on-year growth rate for the past five years.
Are you interested in working with a company at the forefront of emerging technologies?
In the East of England alone, £998 million was invested in emerging tech between 2015 and 2019. With offices based in Ipswich, Cambridge and Norwich, Coderus operates within the hub of this region, providing a range of services across mobile app and software development.
If you have an idea for a project you’d like us to help you transform into a reality, feel free to get in touch.