There’s no doubt that the tech sector is the shining star of the UK’s economy. A Tech Nation report earlier this year highlighted that technology is expanding 2.6 times faster than the rest of the UK economy, with the sector worth nearly £184 billion.
The report also revealed how London ranks as second most connected place for tech in the world after Silicon Valley.
Great news for the UK, of course. But what of the rest of the country?
It’s important to remember London does not make our tech economy. In fact there is plenty of life outside of the capital’s tech economy.
Back in 2015 it was revealed that 74% of digital companies were based outside of the capital. Latest reports show how digital hubs across the country are thriving, including 16 towns or ‘Silicon Suburbs’ that are showing a higher proportion of digital tech employment than the UK average.
For the last few years we in these thriving tech hubs have been pushing for attention and acknowledgement and - at last - it seems we have it, but that’s really only half the battle.
Now, we need to get out of our regional bubbles and stop seeing London as the big bad wolf. The thief of investment and pilferer of talent.
The fact is, investment into technology is far bigger than just being in Shoreditch, and I say that as I sit in an apartment two minutes from Old Street ahead of a day of meetings.
If technology and digital businesses outside of London like Mashbo are to grow, we need to get off our backsides and engage with the money and knowledge the city has to offer.
We need to find ways to make sure investment opportunities travel both north and south and that our sector works as a thriving ecosystem, not just isolated clusters. It shouldn’t be a case of The Northern Powerhouse vs the City of London.
We should be working in harmony to champion the UK as hot bed of tech talent as this will empower the younger generation and those looking to reskill.
We need to visit places like London and beyond, traveling transatlantic to spread the work and seek out bigger and more impactful opportunities that will benefit the economy as a whole.
We need to get out there, meet people and learn stuff. There are pockets of money in most cities for tech investment, but those in London and beyond are more attuned and understand how to invest in tech. They are more comfortable with the risks involved, so they’re less cautious.
That’s the reason why Mashbo has been spending time in London. We’re looking for new business opportunities for our software development consultancy, because we know we can compete on a par and even beyond the businesses located here.
But we’re also seeking investment opportunities for our PropTech startup PropertyCloud, around £1,000,000 to push the project in regards to its development and commercialisation.
Being north-based shouldn’t be an inhibitor. You can quite literally be anywhere in the world with a software as a service (SaaS) product like PropertyCloud to be able to be a solid investment. You just need a good product and niche market.
Those of us that do get out of our cosy home tech ecosystems and learn from the Shoreditch Tech bubble and beyond also have more to do. When you return home you have to share your stories and introduce your contacts with your peers, provide opportunities for growth to everyone in your pool.
I’m lucky enough to be based in Liverpool with Mashbo and we have loads of amazing thing happening. DoES Liverpool, LAB by Capacity, Santander's Incubator and Liverpool Girl Geeks to just a few of our home city’s pioneers that are in involved in pushing tech forwards.
The people at the heart of business in our city, such as the chief executive of the Liverpool & Sefton Chamber of Commerce, Paul Cherpeau, understand both the importance of the tech sector in this city and the need to work collaboratively with other tech hubs, north and south.
The tech economy is thriving and growing. It’s alive and well in London and in cities and towns across the UK. Now is our moment, but we can only sustain this growth if we see tech and digital not as siloed ‘hubs’ but as one unified sector, with money and business leaders flowing freely across regional borders, sharing the wealth and knowledge we all need to develop.
Use London to your advantage, use your neighbouring towns and cities to your advantage. Use them to grow and learn, as well as share and connect. After all, we’re all in this together.”
Gavin Sherratt, managing director, Mashbo