The Stack Archive News Article

The Voice of the Industry: Is the UK an attractive investment prospect?

Fri 3 Nov 2017

Welcome to The Stack’s weekly Voice of the Industry rundown, where we take a hot tech topic and find out what the experts think.

This week, we’re looking at investment into the technology industry in the UK. We published an article on a report that found that the UK benefits from the most Silicon Valley venture capital investment of any European country, with London receiving more than Stockholm, Paris and Berlin combined.

The very next day, we covered a government-backed report which found that the UK seriously needs to up its game, or risk being left behind as other nations move into the fourth industrial revolution. Later, major news broke that Bank of England interest rates are being raised for the first time in ten years.

Is the UK a cutting-edge country, or a lumbering Luddite?

Mat Clothier, Founder, CEO & CTO at Cloudhouse

British businesses, across all sectors, are willing to evaluate and adopt new technology because they recognise that it can give them a competitive edge in today’s global economy.

The government provides great support for new technology start-ups through R&D tax credits which help fund a company’s investment in innovation; support is available in the form of cash payment and/or corporation tax reductions to any companies that spend money developing new products, processes or services; or enhancing existing ones.

There is a gap between the competence and technology already available, the willingness of companies to invest, and the ability of government to support

Iain Jawad, Director of Strategic Partnerships at Frost & Sullivan

It’s no surprise to see the UK, and London in particular, be the hotspot for tech investment, from Silicon Valley and beyond. The mixture of major industries, skills, innovation capability and ecosystem are key drivers of this success.

However, the concerns expressed on the challenges in driving industrial digitalisation, and digital skill development, is understandable. A backdrop of decades of under-investment in technical skills development (compared to Germany as an example), and a landscape of broader under-investment in long-term capital-intensive process improvement, are challenges.

This is also hindered by the capacity of any government to support implementation of productivity improvements enabled by existing technologies, rather than supporting research and development initiatives, given constraints in state-aid, budgets, etc. There is a gap between the competence and technology already available, the willingness of companies to invest, and the ability of government to support, that means we still have substantial room for improving productivity and consequent economic growth.

Emmanuel Lumineau, CEO at BrickVest

The interest rise announcement is momentous for the UK economy and should signal the start of a series of gradual increases. The Bank of England has decided that inflation is potentially getting out of control and the economy now requires higher borrowing costs. The decision also signals that the UK economy has not performed as weakly as the Bank predicted last year.

The main roadblock to truly embracing innovation is the availability of talent to drive this change

Matthew McGrory, Group Strategy Director at Six Degrees 

Having worked as part of the TechUK Skills, Talent and Migration Group for the last couple of years, I’ve had first-hand experience in reviewing and trying to steer government policy in the area of technology innovation. And while there are lots of reasons why investment in UK start-ups is at an all-time high, particularly focused in London, the main roadblock to truly embracing innovation that I have consistently seen is the availability of talent to drive this change.

There is plenty of innovation out there, plenty of capital available to invest, but there is a lack of belief that there is enough talent and vision to execute. This is where the focus needs to go.

Come back next week for more new takes on hot topics. 


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