UK Tech is Punching Above Its Weight

by Fatima Adam Dept

The UK is establishing itself as a global hub for tech. A constant stream of innovation is flowing out of this corner of the world with the influx of tech start-ups popping up and internationally renowned brands settling in. As an international digital agency, headquartered in The Netherlands, Dept moved into the UK in 2016 and is growing a strong presence with five teams based across London and Manchester. Tech Nation recently published its Annual Tech National Report with some very interesting findings that shed light on how the UK tech scene is thriving.

Scaleups Are a Driving Force

Ambitious tech entrepreneurs across the UK are more networked than ever, and they are accelerating the sector’s growth through international connections. From late 2018 to present, London scaleup firms grew by over 56 per cent, more than anywhere else globally. The UK is the fourth in the world for scaleup investment after the US, China, and India. UK tech scaleup investment accounts for 80 per cent of the total tech investment in the UK which puts the country in a strong international position; propelling economic growth and creating opportunities for new jobs and innovation to flourish. So which areas of tech are on the rise?

Artificial Intelligence

AI startups from the UK raised almost double that of France and Germany combined. The UK’s fast-growing artificial intelligence sector leapt almost six-fold from 2014 to 2018. Major established companies in the tech sector, and increasingly beyond, are using AI to tune up their operations and services. AI has been progressing across all sectors, but fintech and health tech have seen particularly strong growth. To continue developing and applying AI, the report Growing the artificial intelligence industry in the UK states that the UK will need to increase ease of access to data in a wider range of sectors and support text and data mining as a standard and essential tool for research.


The UK is now leading the world in fintech with high-growth businesses receiving over £4.5 billion investment between 2015 and 2018. Rapidly developing technology is turning the sector on its head and overhauling financial services into the digital age, as a flood of new entrants try their hand at taking a different approach to how financial services work and offer the public a much-needed alternative to the long-standing monopolies. Fintech scaleups received almost double the investment of the next most popular UK tech sectors: e-commerce, gaming, and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).

The Tech Nation report also reviewed specialisms in the UK and conducted a comparison to find their global peer. Matches were based on the investment that companies in these cities have received over the past five years, as well as trajectories of these clusters. Based on this data, these pairs showed similar dynamics; Birmingham was matched with Atlanta and New Delhi, Manchester with St. Petersburg, Budapest and London, Stockholm, San Francisco and Beijing were all counterparts. Knowing a city’s global twin in a specific sector enables businesses within it to take learnings from each other and create worldwide hubs around that expertise.

The tech scene in the UK is showing no signs of slowing down, despite the imminence of Brexit.  The industry will be fundamental to the UK’s future growth. As the Tech Nation report states, ‘the connectedness of our world-leading clusters means that we can leverage strengths and support one another across the country, in order to succeed internationally.’