The UK & Ireland's Love Affair with the Tech Industry

February 25, 2020 | Katrina Hinrichsen

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The UK is rapidly proving to have one of the best tech ecosystems in the world and Ireland is following in its footsteps. Discover the impressive record-breaking figures and company developments that showcase the countries' blossoming love affair with the tech industry.

Tech in the United Kingdom

In yet another record-breaking year, investments in the UK tech sector soared to £10.1bn in 2019 – a £3.1bn increase on 2018’s very strong figures and the highest level in UK history. It is evidence that despite Brexit concerns, the UK's technology industry is in fact going from strength to strength.

Investment in UK tech firms has more than doubled since the Brexit vote, surging to a record £9bn last year and putting the UK far ahead of its European rivals. The top-funded startup in Europe is currently the UK's global communications company OneWeb, with almost $3.5bn in total disclosed equity funding.

In 2019, the UK accumulated eight more unicorns (privately held startup companies achieving a valuation over $1 billion), far outranking the next highest country – 77 to Germany's 32.

These new UK unicorns range from clean energy company OVO Energy, who recently secured a $260m deal, to digital rail and coach ticketing platform Trainline, who now have a 600-strong team consisting of travel tech specialists such as developers, data scientists and engineers.

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David Richards, Founder & CEO at WANdisco said"2019 cemented the UK’s position as the unicorn capital of Europe – adding eight more billion-dollar businesses to the 69 which had already been created here in the UK. With 2019’s new unicorn businesses being based in tech hubs like Bristol, Oxford, Cambridge and Leeds – it’s positive to see that tech sector growth is creating highly skilled and well paid jobs right across the UK."

Although many of these new unicorns are now popping up in cities around the UK, London is of course at the heart of the UK's prosperous tech industry – in 2019 it was named the top city in the world for foreign direct investment from overseas tech companies.

According to the data from London & Partners, London racked up 91 tech investment projects to the sum of £864m over 12 months, compared to Singapore’s 79, Paris’ 46 and New York’s 32.

Facebook's COO Sheryl Sandberg recently announced that they will even be building a new headquarters close to Google in King's Cross, London and will populate it by hiring 1,000 more staff members. The plans will help to fortify the capital's reputation of excellence and growth in the tech sector even further.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan stated: "London is Europe’s leading tech hub and is helping to create even more jobs and investment for the capital and the wider UK economy. As our city’s tech ecosystem continues to grow it’s important that we encourage greater inclusivity and diversity across the tech sector and ensure that London stays open to investment and talent from around the world".

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Fintech is one of the UK's best performing sectors, alongside AI, deep tech and clean energy. UK fintech firms raised £4.1bn last year – an impressive 7.5 times the amount raised by French fintechs, and three times as much as fintech firms in Germany.  

This is largely thanks to significant investments raised by newly established fintech unicorn Checkout.com as well as by fundraises of companies such as World Remit, Monzo Bank and Starling Bank.

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Attendees at Women of Silicon Roundabout will be able to hear from speakers such as Sheree Atcheson, Head of Diversity and Inclusion at Monzo and Anne Boden, CEO at Starling Bank. You can also learn more about the sector through our Fintech Focus theme – a mixture of panels and presentations that will explore the opportunities coming from the growth of fintech's global investment and the creation of technologies to support this expansion. 

Overall, it's clear to see that the UK's tech sector has an exciting future ahead, and with new technologies and processes emerging all the time, it's important that business leaders, tech professionals and organisations are ready to be a part of trailblazing this positive and impactful change.

Digital Secretary Nicky Morgan said: "These brilliant new numbers demonstrate the strength of the UK tech industry and how it is a sweet spot of our economy. Our tech companies are not only commanding the confidence of global investors but they are also creating new jobs and wealth across the country. It’s absolutely vital we maintain this impressive success and in Government we are working tirelessly to make sure the conditions are right.”

 

Tech in Ireland

Ireland is showing similar traction in the tech industry and experienced exponential growth last year.

The Morgan McKinley Irish Salary & Benefits Guide Ireland’s most comprehensive analysis of pay and benefits across a range of professions and sectors, anticipated at the start of 2019 that salary increases in the technology sector were likely to be in the region of 10% on average, rising to a 20% increase for more niche and in demand skill-sets.

The country has evidenced that it is on the path to becoming a global tech hub. Nine of the world's top 10 medical technology companies and the top 10 'born on the Internet' companies (such as Google and Facebook) are operating at scale in Dublin.

These major tech companies were initially attracted to the capital because of the lucrative 12.5% corporation tax coupled with a 25% R&D tax credits initiative – part of the Irish government's commitment to driving innovation and fostering new business. The government's Foreign Direct Investment arm also appealed to companies to come and settle in Ireland.

It seems to have paid off – according to Carol Tallon, CEO of Property District and founder of PropTech Ireland, startup culture has bloomed because of the direct influence of tech giants. "They’ve enabled innovation and ensured that this is rewarded. They’ve also spawned new startups to solve problems that arise out of tech advances that they’re not willing to live with".

What's more, Ireland is an EU member state and already has a highly skilled, multilingual workforce in place, meaning it is a great location to set up multi-functional teams focussed on different regions.

Ireland's tech sector should rise to new heights in 2020, with companies such as software firm R3 planning to open their second European office in Dublin this year.

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Sharing the love for the tech industry

It's the passion and determination of the tech community that has helped the industry to achieve these remarkable successes. So, in light of these thriving developments, we asked some of our women in tech community to share what they love most about their work.

Since there's still a lot to be done to close the gender gap in the sector, it's particularly important that women continually share their professional experiences and encourage other women to pursue their career ambitions. Technology informs so much of our lives and so women should have an equal part of it!

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"I love working in the tech industry because it’s an industry that is shaping our present and future world. It’s driven by continuous innovation and relentless reinvention. It provides the opportunity to amplify great ideas and work with smart colleagues and customers."

- Patricia Gestoso, Global Head of Scientific and Technical Customer Support at BIOVIA, Manchester

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"I love the innovative, bold and energetic spirit amongst the tech community!"

- Carmen Lincolne, CEO at HoustonApps and Operations Manager at PayDock, London

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"Technology inspires and drives the way the world functions and lives. The passion and drive of the tech sector is infectious.

I entered the technological space only by chance, and I’ve remained because of the ever changing nature of the industry. Technology is the driving force behind the majority, if not all, of today’s innovations. I love the idea of being able to learn so much and still not know enough.

Technology is also the ultimate portable career. A candidate with the right skill set can work for almost any company and from anywhere in the world. A benefit of working in technology is that I have acquired a unique skill set which has meant I am able to move to many different roles in my company.

It isn’t just about coming up with cutting-edge ideas, we need to work in technology to explore how those ideas will work in the real world. I have the utmost respect for the impact technology is making and will continue to make on the world."

- Chaitali Kanetkar, DevOps Engineer at CapGemini, Cheshire

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"I worked in the tech industry for over 20 years and loved the variety of opportunity. I had several career pivots that led to new and exciting adventures. Would highly recommend a career in tech."

- Julie Cullen, Career Coach and former Client Account Manager at IBM, Glasgow

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"I really like embracing the rapid nature of digital marketing and bringing my expertise in traditional advertising, marketing, and PR to online/e-commerce environments.

I am presently working on a variety of projects, some driven by AI and machine learning, and this is a new learning curve for me. Consulting is also challenging but flexible and that suits my family etc. Most days I certainly love my job, challenges and all".

- Ciara Lawlor, Digital Media Manager at eCommerce Association of Ireland, Dublin

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Lead the tech revolution

Women of Silicon Roundabout will be taking place on June 16-17, 2020 at the ExCeL, London and we can't wait to welcome 7,800 current and future tech leaders there. The event will be a lively space for you to discover and be discovered by pioneering companies, share ideas, network with like-minded peers and boost your personal and professional development in the tech space. Download your brochure for more information.

For those in Ireland, head to our Women in Tech Dublin site to find out more.

Make sure you don't miss out! There's only a few months to go until Women of Silicon Roundabout is live and there are limited Early Bird passes available... book your pass now and strengthen your love for the tech industry!

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