Regional spotlight: What makes London Europe's leading tech hub? – UKTN (UK Technology News

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London is Europe’s main tech hub. Globally, it is just trumped by Silicon Valley. Town identified for Large Ben, double-decker buses and breathtaking parks has seen its tech ecosystem flourish over the previous decade.
This progress has reached new heights over the past three years, with the UK capital’s tech scene smashing document after document. In 2021, for instance, London tech startups raised a document $25.5bn, making it the fourth-highest metropolis for VC funding globally. By this metric, it’s solely crushed by San Francisco, New York and Larger Boston.
This has helped propel the UK tech business as a complete to a $1tn valuation, a landmark milestone that has beforehand solely been reached by the US and China.
In an indication of each Britain’s maturing tech ecosystem and the pull of London, three out of 4 of the UK’s tech unicorns – a privately held startup with a worth of $1bn or extra – are primarily based within the capital.
They embrace drug discovery firm BenevolentAI, occasions platform Hopin and insurtech Marshmallow.
Among the many newer additions to the membership which now stands at greater than 40 unicorns are Multiverse, the Euan Blair-founded edtech startup, and funds supplier Paddle.
It’s not simply funding and unicorns which have made London a high tech hub. London additionally ranks extremely for connectivity, expertise, infrastructure and data. Utilizing these metrics, London’s startup ecosystem ranks behind solely Silicon Valley and has carried out so since 2020, in keeping with a Startup Genome report.
“London’s tech sector continues to point out phenomenal resilience within the face of financial uncertainty,” says Russ Shaw CBE, founding father of Tech London Advocates and International Tech Advocates. “Repeatedly, the capital attracts entrepreneurs and traders who see London as a world metropolis and recognise that it’s a implausible place to start out, develop and scale a enterprise.”
However the place did all of it start? And what makes London one of many world’s main tech hubs?
Rewind again to 2010 and lots of of at the moment’s well-known British tech firms – Deliveroo, Revolut and Monzo, to call just a few – didn’t but exist.
Tech innovation throughout this era was formed by the rise of the smartphone, the launch of the iPad and the creation of latest American social media firms similar to Instagram and Snapchat.
Nonetheless, a lot of this tech innovation was happening throughout the Atlantic – one thing that didn’t go unnoticed by then-Prime Minister David Cameron.
Digital expertise firms had been forming across the Previous Avenue Roundabout in Shoreditch from the late 2000s. However from the beginning of the next decade the world underwent fast progress as a expertise hub, boosted by Cameron’s plan to assist East London grow to be a British Silicon Valley.
The creation of the Tech Metropolis Funding Organisation introduced coverage modifications similar to funding incentives and upgrades to the world’s digital connectivity.
Based on Lloyds Financial institution’s UK Enterprise Digital Index, 86% of small companies in London now have excessive digital capability – the very best fee within the nation.
All through the 2010s tech firms massive and small flocked to the world. Funding flowed in. Right this moment, tech entrepreneurship has unfold from the world dubbed Silicon Roundabout throughout the entire of London.
East London’s Olympic Park is residence to innovation centre Plexal – situated on the Right here East tech hub – the place some 800 startup entrepreneurs work, research and collaborate.
Lower than 4 miles straight south, enterprise district Canary Wharf hosts one in all Europe’s largest fintech and cybersecurity accelerators, Level39.
The US’ largest tech giants have all invested in making London their residence. Google’s “landscraper” – its £1bn headquarters that’s so long as the Shard is tall – is ready to open in King’s Cross in 2024.
Close by, Microsoft’s workplace is situated in Paddington whereas within the south-east Apple is main the regeneration at Battersea Energy Station.
US tech giants and British scaleups all select London for a similar causes. The cosmopolitan metropolis has entry to a world-class expertise pool, high-quality public transport infrastructure, entry to 6 worldwide airports and a vibrant enterprise tradition.
These beneficial circumstances improve the identical community impact precept that drives worth in social media firms. The extra expert tech staff in London, the extra helpful that community turns into and so extra individuals and startups find within the metropolis.
That is additionally true for capital, with London residence to just about 70% of the UK’s non-public fairness and enterprise capital traders.
Additional boosting the ecosystem are London’s prestigious universities, with the likes of Imperial Faculty London sturdy in science, engineering and enterprise. Tutorial establishments present each a circulation of expertise to town and concepts, which regularly materialise within the type of college spinouts.
Greasing the wheels of it is a progressive regulatory panorama, with the London-headquartered Monetary Conduct Authority’s regulatory sandbox making a beneficial setting for innovation.
Whereas London attracts startups hailing from all sectors, there may be one which dominates: fintech.
Fintech, or monetary expertise, is a broad church that features all the things from digital banks to fee infrastructure.
Greater than 2,000 fintech firms are situated within the capital, and, in keeping with Beauhurst knowledge, 71% of London’s high-growth startups have been fintechs in 2021.
All 21 of the UK’s fintech unicorns – GoCardless, Clever and Revolut to call just a few – are primarily based in London, which is broadly thought of one of many world’s main fintech hubs. Why?
Some 300 of the world’s banking headquarters are primarily based in London. Shoreditch lies in shut proximity to London’s monetary district, making a free-flowing setting to share expertise and concepts.
“For hundreds of years London has been the centre of world finance, due to its trusted banking and insurance coverage establishments,” says Steve Harris, UK head of expertise for SME and mid corporates at Lloyds Financial institution. “If you add entrepreneurs and digital innovation to this setting, it’s solely pure that monetary expertise leads the best way.”
The UK is the very best internet exporter of economic providers. With the likes of London-based purchase now, pay later firm Zilch and others increasing to the US and past, fintech is in a robust place to make sure the UK continues to paved the way for monetary service exports.
For all London’s strengths, its standing as Europe’s pre-eminent tech hub isn’t assured. It has continued to draw document ranges of tech investments post-Brexit however dropping entry to international expertise has exacerbated the nation’s digital expertise scarcity.
Startups have grown pissed off with recruiting high-skilled staff since Britain left the EU. The federal government’s not too long ago introduced scaleup visa, designed to make it simpler for firms to rent people working in roles similar to software program growth and engineering, have been welcomed by the business.
However with the rise of distant working giving extra flexibility to startups, London may even see competitors improve with the UK’s quickly rising regional tech hubs within the battle to draw the nation’s high firms and staff.
London’s tech business wants continued assist from the private and non-private sectors to “proceed its trajectory”, says Shaw, including that they “should work in congruence to create a mutually supportive setting that’s ripe for progress”.
He provides: “London’s digital financial system is in dire want of a digital workforce to fill the multitude of tech vacancies within the capital.
“As such, the federal government and personal sector want to offer high quality expertise coaching, so individuals are geared up with the abilities mandatory for the roles of the longer term.”
Eleanor Cox, head of tech, media and telecoms, SME banking, London, says the digital sector is “an necessary a part of financial progress and innovation” and in some cases transforms individuals’s lives and the best way enterprise operates.”
She provides: “It’s crucial we think about how we are able to assist that progress and assist gasoline tech progress throughout all sub-sectors. While fintechs has been a dominant business in London, there may be nice potential for different tech sectors additionally: for instance, we’re solely simply scratching the floor of what tech can do to ship nice public service.”
Lloyds Financial institution’s relationship managers are skilled within the tech sector and are eager to assist additional progress of this vibrant business. Please get in contact at the moment to debate how we’d assist what you are promoting.
Eleanor Cox is head of tech, media and telecoms, SME banking, London, at Lloyds Financial institution.
[email protected]
For extra details about how Lloyds Financial institution helps UK tech companies, click on right here.
In partnership with Lloyds Financial institution.


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