The UK is an incredibly important market for our company despite the fact that we only launched here in September 2022. 

As its new chief operating officer, a key part of my role is to drive our expansion into new markets, and I see tremendous potential to go big in Britain. 

We are not the only technology company with this attitude towards the UK at the moment. Last year, the country became one of only three nations in the world to see its tech industry reach a combined market value of $1 trillion, a feat which has earned it the title of Europe’s Silicon Valley. This is in spite of being outside of the EU and all the well-documented challenges and commentary about Brexit. 

A fair assessment is that the UK’s attractiveness to European businesses has been complicated by Brexit, but is not at risk. Technology skills are not country specific and are in high demand – Brexit has made it more difficult for technical talent to come to the UK, and the result is that it’s creating higher demand for off-shoring work. 

However, what has also been proven in the past few years is that the UK is home to an extremely resilient technology sector. Indeed, although challenges remain, the industry here continues to draw in companies from Europe in a way that puts it on a similar podium to the likes of the US and China as a leading destination for digital businesses. 

The result is that the UK technology sector is #1 in Europe and a technical and economic success story for the British economy.

Why the UK is fertile ground for tech firms

Our decision to move into the market is certainly not going against the grain. For us specifically, the UK represents a major opportunity because it is one of the largest data and cloud markets in Europe, yet is still very underserved by data cloud native skills.

Our job is to help plug that gap. Given every company’s imperative to be more data driven in their decision-making, the move into the UK market is already paying some dividends after we secured our first customer within two months of opening operations. 

In a broader sense, the UK has long been an attractive destination for technology businesses, especially firms from the US, which identify it as an ideal launchpad into Europe. 

It is often said that Americans and Brits are two peoples separated by a common language, but that is not the case in technology. Demand for tech skills has always been stronger in the UK because of the presence of American firms in addition to indigenous technology companies – the result is a strong, skilled workforce for higher value careers.

The country’s mature and vibrant financial establishment is also a very important pull factor. Historically, entrepreneurs looking to establish their own technology companies in the UK have been able to tap into very strong sources of investment from private equity, venture capital and crowdsourcing. 

Indeed, the investment community here is extremely tech savvy. It serves as a vital cog in the machine that makes the UK a favourable location to expand or establish business. 

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Is the Silicon Valley label premature?

While we see clear advantages and great potential to perform well in the UK, like any market there are challenges that need to be overcome in order to boost attractiveness even further. 

On the practical side of things, ‘UK Limited’ needs to help make new business administration for companies entering the UK quicker and easier. For example, it can take two to three months to create a legal entity or subsidiary of a European company, a process that is long-winded and often requires the onboarding of additional legal support. 

Likewise, something as simple as setting up a UK bank account can take even longer, up to six months in the most extreme cases. Given we live in a world of instant gratification and digital, seamless connectivity where pretty much everything is ‘on demand’, this process, as an example, is far too cumbersome and costly, slowing down investment in Britain.

Furthermore, in general terms, the UK still lags behind the US in the digital transformation stakes. I have been exposed to both markets first-hand throughout my career in technology, and believe that labelling the UK as a European Silicon Valley is a little exaggerated – and let me stress – for the time being.  

That said, there is no doubt that it remains a highly advanced and attractive place for technology companies to do business. We would not be placing so much confidence in the market if this was not the case. Ask me if the label fits in another 3-5 years, and the pendulum might well swing from maybe to absolutely.

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