Chris Maguire

BusinessCloud executive editor Chris Maguire on why Tech Nation 2021 report makes encouraging reading

It’s very easy to think that the COVID-19 pandemic has sent all of UK business to hell in a handcart. 

Clearly, it’s had a massive impact on sectors like hospitality and travel, but large swathes of the UK have survived and, in some cases, thrived. 

Step forward the tech sector. 

If you don’t believe how good it’s been, have a look at the latest Tech Nation Report, which is now available online. 

Now in its seventh year, the report highlights how the sector has changed, who the top performers were through the year, and the challenges and opportunities the UK faces in 2021. 

It must be going well because Prime Minister Boris Johnson has written the foreword! 

He wrote: “2020 saw UK companies attract more than twice as much VC funding as our nearest European competitor. London alone benefited from more investment than the next three leading cities put together. 

“Unicorns now roam the streets of cities across England, Scotland and Wales. This isn’t just great news for the entrepreneurs and thinkers and do-ers who make the British tech industry what it is. As the sector grows and grows it contributes more and more to our economy, a silicon supercharge that benefits us all.  

“And that’s before we even get to the tech itself, the sparks of ideas that, properly funded and fanned, can change the way we live, work, play and even think about life.” 

Tech Nation’s chief executive Gerard Grech is equally chipper – and has every right to be. 

He said: “In 2020, amid a global pandemic, tech venture capital investment in the UK hit a record high of $15 billion. This positions Britain third in the world behind the US and China – and this year the gap between the UK and those two global powers is closing compared to previous years. Furthermore, both the US and China are investing more in UK tech companies than ever before.  

“2020 was a record year for investment in deep tech jumping by 17 per cent to just under $4 billion. From blockchain to BioTech, this AI-driven sector is the bedrock upon which much of our future will be built.” 

I’d encourage you to read the report but here are six of the facts that caught my eye: 

  1. In North West England there was a 200 per cent increase in health tech investment; 
  2. UK tech VC investment is third in the world, hitting a record high of $15bn in 2020 in the face of challenging conditions; 
  3. The UK is pulling away from European tech hubs, Germany and France in terms of investment;
  4. UK tech IPOs gathered pace in 2020, with double the capital raised compared to2018;
  5. Tech is becoming more important for the UK economy. The rate of tech GVA contribution to the UK economy has grown on average by 7 per cent per year since 2016; and
  6. UK deep tech investment rose by 17% in 2020, the highest rate of growth globally.

Contact Chris at [email protected] or on Twitter at @editor_maguire