Wales’ growing digital technology is turning over £1bn, with 3,600 companies employing 45,000 workers.
The standout figure was part of the latest Tech Nation report that found the UK is leading the rest of Europe in tech investment.
Tech Nation, the scaleup-network for UK entrepreneurs, which released its annual report this week, found that of the 169 unicorn tech companies created in Europe and Israel 35% were in the UK.
The UK tech sector performed particularly well in investment last year. In 2018, the UK managed to attract 5% of global high-tech scaleup investment, placing it fourth in the world – ahead of Germany, France and Sweden.
Investment for UK high-growth digital tech firms also grew 61% between 2017 and 2018 – driven in large part by ambitious UK tech scaleups. These scaleups delivered the majority of all tech investments in the UK in 2018 – £5bn of £6.3bn.
The UK’s strongest tech sub-sector, and where it currently ranks as number one in the world, is fintech, with investment in UK high-growth fintech firms achieving £4.5bn between 2015 and 2018.
On an international scale, UK cities continue to attract investment on the global stage.
The Tech Nation Report also looked at international hubs across the world and paired them with cities in the UK that have a shared scale-up investment pattern. Cardiff was twinned with the US city of Atlanta and Pune in India.
The clusters were matched based on the investment companies based there received over the past five years. The report also looked at the investment trajectories of these clusters, to pair them with where showed similar dynamics. UK Government Minister for Wales, Kevin Foster said: “Wales’ tech sector is growing rapidly – creating jobs, boosting economic growth and confirming our position as a global hub of excellence.
“The innovation of our tech start-ups is fuelling this growth, with many companies coming from collaborative communities of passionate entrepreneurs.
“Innovative Welsh companies pushing forward new technologies in data, AI and cybersecurity will ensure that we are positioned to thrive in the economy of the future.
“This report shines a spotlight on the exciting tech scene in Wales and its impact on the UK and global economy. The UK Government remains committed to supporting the ambition and innovation of our businesses as we create a world leading digital economy.”
The UK attracted 5% of global high-growth tech investment in 2018, while UK GDP as a whole makes up 2.2% of the global economy.
High-growth digital firms are delivering massive value for the UK. Deals in these companies make up 80% of all tech investments in the country.
High-growth tech companies in the United States employ nearly 35% of all high-growth tech workers globally. The UK is sixth, with 5%, ahead of Japan, France and Indonesia.
In the UK, insurtech and fintech were the biggest employers among high-growth digital tech firms in 2018, employing 24% and 18% of the high-growth workforce respectively.
The emergence of high-growth fintech and insurtech, and the abundance of talent, are perhaps unsurprising given the UK’s historic strength in financial services.
On July 17, Tech Nation is holding a Tech Nation Talks event in Cardiff where it will share insights from the report and discuss the strengths and challenges of Welsh tech.
Aimee Bateman, founder of CareerCake, said: “The tech scene is great; it’s filled with passionate people, fantastic networks and some of the most amazing investors. In the early days we were told we’d need to move to London or the US to make it in our space, but in fact Cardiff has presented us with so many opportunities.”
This thoughts were echoed by Louise Harris, CEO, Big Learning Company.
“Cardiff has a leading creative industries sector, grown up over the last 20 years and continuing to develop, there is a real opportunity to converge Tech expertise and innovation with the mature skills of this sector to do something truly exciting and world-leading,” said Ms Harris.
“The clustering we have seen in Wales around Data, AI, Cybersecurity and IOT is a helpful way to focus resources and expertise to accelerate start-ups and scale-ups in these areas.”
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