The UK Tech Revolution

9 Minutes

UK Tech Cities. See the UK’s leading tech firms and their prime locations. As they have high confidence as money pours in from investors. Read this Tech VC backed financial report.

As the UK’s leading tech firms produce proofs of concept capable of disrupting an entire industry, confidence is high as money pours in from investors. UK companies received[1] more than £10bn in funding from overseas during 2019. Not only that, but the hottest prospects are drawing huge levels of investment from leading firms. The difference between having a game-changing idea and a valued proposition can’t be underestimated.


As well as the chief innovators working on the product, you need to position operational heads – business development directors, heads of sales – to ensure the company can look outwards for future success. Whether your company is starting up in search of that killer round of funding or scaling up in a hurry to meet new and ceiling-shattering targets, having already secured VC backing, it’s essential to put the right talent in place.


The UK tech industry has defied all expectations, as the revolution rolls on. There’s an estimated 1.7m openings in tech – accounting for a fifth[2] of all UK job vacancies.

London leads the way for the UK’s tech surge, with more than 50,000 companies delivering daily. Even further afield, our capital has seen success on the world stage.

A study by Savills reports[3] that the $19bn invested in London’s tech scene from 2016-2018 placed it ahead of San Francisco – the real Silicon Valley hub – and just short of New York’s multi-conglomerate marketplace.

As London glides into position alongside established tech giants like Beijing, San Francisco and Stockholm, we examined the figures to see if there’s potential for other UK cities to hit new heights in technology by fusing a winning concept with a crew capable of selling it.


UK Tech – Cities in Focus

London may lead the way for the nation’s electric dreams, but thanks to a rapidly developing infrastructure and growing talent pools, other cities are gaining ground.

The Tech Nation 2019 study puts many UK cities on a level playing field with the capital. According to their figures, the last 12 years of investment have been more evenly spread out across the regions. While 36% of all incoming investment has gone London’s way, the South East has received 30%, followed by 15% in the East[4].

The government’s championing of the Northern Powerhouse as a key player in digital has also created an attractive prospect. In its ‘Digital Powerhouse’ report, it quoted[5] advertised salaries for digital roles in Leeds and Liverpool approaching the £50,000 mark – putting the industry more than a third above the average UK advertised salary.

Regional Tech Businesses Vs Turnover Graphic

Regional Tech Turnover


Source: Tech Nation

Using data from the Tech Nation report, we have identified a number of UK cities that already have the edge on London. Together with the capital, these cities are fast becoming a force to be reckoned with on the world stage.


City Profile – London

Start-ups per thousand people – 1.9

Investors per thousand people – 1.6

Investment per head – €1,217

Exits in 2019 – €30,400,000,000

No UK city comes remotely close to London for sheer size and scale of its tech setup. There are more than 14,000 individual tech start-ups and scale-ups based in London – the next most tech-disruptive city is Manchester, with just over 650.

With an industry turnover higher than £64bn, London beats all other English regions combined. Key to achieving these massive financial goals is the huge pool of talent to draw from in every aspect of business, from initial tinkering to the final sales push.


City Profile – Cambridge

Start-ups per thousand people – 3.1

Investors per thousand people – 3.9

Investment per head – €4,128

Exits in 2019 – €35,200,000,000

Although its population is a fraction of London’s, the amount of investment and companies per thousand people in Cambridge far exceeds the capital. This tech hub benefits from leading scholarly research spun off into private enterprises, as well as a number of high-profile exits.

Bicycle Therapeutics’ ground-breaking work in life sciences[6] has formed just a small part of the €35bn in exits, which the city racked up in 2019. That’s more than London – while the likes of Phixflow and Innova Systems are shoring up the city’s tech profile ready for new venture capital investment.


City Profile – Oxford

Start-ups per thousand people – 1.6

Investors per thousand people – 1.6

Investment per head – €1,278

Exits in 2019 – €521,000,000

A more modest share of tech firms in Oxford doesn’t mean lower confidence. The university city has as many investors per thousand people as London, and a slightly higher share of investment per head. One of only four UK cities to see over half a billion in exits during 2019, Oxford Nanopore Technologies sought[7] a valuation of £1.6bn late last year in a bid to stay o123445n the startup ladder despite overwhelming interest from larger rivals. Senior sales management is hungry to succeed on its own terms – proof that a successful sales proposition is the missing piece in the puzzle.


City Profile – Sheffield

Start-ups per thousand people – 0.2

Investors per thousand people – 0.2

Investment per head – €36

Exits in 2019 – €541,000,000

Sheffield is an unlikely addition to the list, but more than capable of attracting top tech talent. The city racked up more than half a billion euros’ worth of tech exits in 2019. With high-profile deals including the acquisition of Receptive by Raleigh, NC-based Pendo[8], plus a growing digital ecosystem boosted by support from Sheffield Digital, the Steel City is more than deserving of the national profile it’s achieved.


City Specialisms

The UK is developing game-changing tech to benefit a myriad of professions, from doctors to delivery drivers. These breakthroughs take shape in a series of different tech-centric fields – each somehow linked to one particular place. While London delves into Deep-Tech more than any other city, places outside the capital specialise in different fields by having more firms focused on one particular tech.


Various City's Tech Specialisms

City Specialisms – Cambridge

46 Biotechnology firms

Close connections to the university provides Cambridge Science Park and surrounding areas with an influx of top tech talent. At 46 of the park’s 120 firms, the focus is on Biotech – studying living organisms to develop medical solutions, including diagnostic tech and life-saving medicine. Some of the world’s best-known life sciences brands are based here. The city is also home to a number of urban planning and engineering-enhancing firms including COMSOL and Telensa.


City Specialisms – Brighton

5 augmented reality firms

When Digital Catapult selected Brighton as the base for its second Immersive Lab launch in 2017, it opened the door for a number of firms to forge a new path for AR. Brighton is already a digital creative’s paradise – the city hosts annual development and SEO conferences and is home to one of Sumo Digital’s 7 UK studios.


City Specialisms – Edinburgh

8 Blockchain firms

Blockchain represents a giant leap forward for financial security, so naturally Edinburgh is the place for its most promising talents to ply their trade. As the largest financial services and banking hub outside London, the Scottish capital can rely on several firms to develop Blockchain technology to make the banking process more reliable and secure for customers.


City Specialisms – Manchester

18 delivery firms

So many companies are driving themselves to deliver an improved customer experience, by disrupting the way things get done. Manchester’s roguish personality is the perfect fit for this kind of disruption, with 18 firms specialising in everything from retail revolution to speedy meal delivery. and Exponea are just two of the companies which have shaken up the shopping experience, with many more underpinning a pivotal part of the North West’s business acumen.


Tech specialisms by investment per head

With the UK’s tech centres focusing on different areas of product and service development, how can we demonstrate which areas are worth more to companies right now? We’ve calculated in euros the amount that each of the start-ups per promising tech type is given, by averaging out the competitive field with the amount of investment.


Investment per Tech Type

Deep-Tech received the largest financial investment on average. This indicates we’re nearing a breakthrough in the sector, as more companies and investors join the fray on a concept with massive potential for everyday applications. However, by dividing per head (amount of investment / number of start-ups) we found that AI and Biotechnology are the most promising fields right now, receiving the most investment during 2019. AI firms are funded to the tune of €2.3 million on average, while the average Biotech firm got €1.3m in funding. As well as the most Biotech firms outside London, Cambridge also has the largest AI-focused workforce.


The one thing these hugely competitive technology fields have in common is that any one of them – or a combination – could present the industry’s next big breakthrough. By recruiting the right talent in the fields of sales and business development, a company can really make its offering stand out from a less focused crowd, considerably boosting its growth prospects.

Pareto are established market leaders in nurturing the right mix of talent and strong leadership, to unlock market growth for a variety of businesses and sectors. With the kind of unprecedented growth we’re seeing in the UK tech industry, why not see how we can help your business take the next step?


Pareto Chief Executive Officer, Jonathan Fitchew:

"Whether an all-in-one shopping solution combining AR and Blockchain, or a piece of software that employs AI to speed up medical diagnoses, the ‘next big thing’ is already here in the UK – and it’s attracting the kind of start-up capital that our friends in Silicon Valley can only dream of. This level of investment signals a colossal confidence in the companies that combine a strong idea with a strong focus on delivering an engaging proposition."

"Deep tech may be the most-invested field in the UK, but it’s also the most competitive. Separating your offering from the rest of the field means increasing your focus on business development – finding the opportunities for growth and getting the best return on VC investment. Our job is to make sure your sales offering is as strong as it can be, by recruiting the talent that’s a perfect match for your business and product vision."

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