Tech report confirms strength of start-ups in UK regions

Business incubator SETsquared has welcomed new research on the strength of the UK’s digital economy outside London

The new ‘Tech Nation’ report by Tech City shows that the UK’s digital ecosystem is not only thriving but also breaking away from its ‘London-centric’ mindset, with 74% of digital companies now based outside the capital.

SETsquared, a partnership of the universities of Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey, is cited in the report as one of the organisations helping to support a ‘hotbed for future technologies’.

Nick Sturge, director at SETsquared’s centre in Bristol, says the report highlights a growing trend for digital and technological innovation in regions outside the capital.

“What’s interesting about the report is that it has identified that regional clusters vary greatly in expertise and that a focus on certain capabilities by local education institutions has led to sector specialisms in certain clusters,” he says.

“This is something we have seen first-hand at our five sites across the South. Take for example Bristol and Bath, where we have high volumes of silicon, embedded, enterprise and mobile software development, data management and analytics and edtech entrepreneurs.

‘Meanwhile in Southampton, with its university excelling in health and engineering research, we have seen a trend of specialism in health technology and renewable energy. Similarly Surrey, with its university investing heavily in its 5G centre, we have an explosion of mobile technology and the Exeter centre’s proximity to the MET Office means a higher proportion of climate change technologies.”

Bristol and Bath, where SETsquared has two centres, are listed in the report as two of the areas with the highest levels of digital employment in the UK. There 61,653 are employed in the sector, coming second only to inner London where 251,590 are employed.

Independent research carried out by Warwick Economics estimates the economic impact of SETsquared member companies to be £3.8bn over this period, with the creation of 9,000 jobs and that these companies will go on to deliver a further £7.3bn of impact to the UK economy in the decade ahead.