Prime Minister welcomes £1.2bn UK tech investment at launch of London Tech Week

Profile picture for user ddpreez By Derek du Preez June 10, 2019
Summary:
Prime Minister Theresa May is set to attempt to dispel any market negativity surrounding Brexit by announcing a number of investments in the UK tech scene.

Although she won’t be Prime Minister for much longer, Theresa May is still trying to do her bit to sell the UK as an investment hotspot - despite the uncertainty the ongoing Brexit debacle is causing for markets. Today marks the kick off of London Tech Week, now in its sixth year, which will see the capital’s tech scene put on a number of events and social activities, promoting it as the tech destination of Europe.

At this point, no one knows what’s going to happen with Brexit. As things stand, the UK is set to leave the EU at the end of October, after a number of extensions and a political deadlock in Parliament over the best approach for the country. With Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement dead in the water, it looks like the final outcome could now either be a softer Brexit (a member of the customs union and close alignment with the single market) or a hard Brexit (crashing out at the end of October), depending on who ends up leader of the Conservative Party.

It’s fair to say that most of those working in the tech industry would feel a lot more comfortable with a soft Brexit (just take a look at Russ Shaw’s piece this week in the London Evening Standard), but more than anything the markets need certainty so that they can plan for the future.

That being said, today the Prime Minister announced £1.2 billion investment in the UK from global tech companies, as well as more government funding and support to back the British tech sector.

Some of the government commitments the Prime Minister will make at London Tech Week, include:

  • £153million government funding, with an additional £205million pledged by industry, to unlock the potential of quantum technologies, including accelerated drug development from quantum computing.

  • 2,500 places available for the first time for AI and data conversion courses starting next year, to equip tech-driven businesses and people across the country with the skills they need. This includes 1,000 government-funded scholarships to open up opportunities for people from all backgrounds.

  • Launching a study into tech competitiveness to identify opportunities and support for digital businesses to ensure the UK remains the most attractive place to build a tech business. This will be led by industry: Cindy Rose from Microsoft UK, Suzanne Ashman from LocalGlobe, Stephen Coleman from CodeBase, and Avid Larizadeh Duggan from Kobalt.

The Prime Minister is expected to say on the British tech sector:

Already we are one of the best places in the world to start and grow a tech business. British Tech is growing over one and a half times faster than the rest of the economy, adding more than one hundred and thirty billion pounds to our economy every year…

But if we are going to maintain our position as a global leader, our challenge is how we develop British Tech and make it even better. We want this to be the place everyone thinks of – and comes to – first when they want to develop their world changing tech ideas. This is a challenge shared between industry and Government…

Today as we sit on the cusp of the next great industrial revolution, we have the opportunity to work together and ensure that the advances we see transform our world for the better, and for the benefit of everyone. Government will back you all the way.

Tech company investments

Prime Minister Theresa May will also be hosting a roundtable for a number of tech companies, including Microsoft UK, Google, Alibaba and Monzo, where it is said that they will discuss opportunities to “fully harness the power of technology to enhance competitiveness, boost the economy and tackle societal challenges”.

New data released by Dealroom and Tech Nation - again, promoting the UK as a top tech destination - shows that the UK has produced 72 tech companies worth $1 billion, which Number 10 said is “substantially higher than any other country in Europe”, and that tech start-ups have raised a record $4.8 billion in venture capital investments over the first five months of 2019.

The tech company funding announced today, includes:

  • VMware, who plan to invest £1billion over the next five years

  • Mastek, who are investing a £12million in a new digital skills programme for 120 graduates in Leeds, creating 200 new jobs.

  • Markley Group, who are making their first investment into the UK by building a £150million new data centre, creating over 200 new highly skilled jobs, including data scientists and engineers.

  • SatixFy, who are investing £30million in their R&D operation in Cheadle, creating 30 new jobs.

  • OneWeb, who are announcing a further £16million investment into their UK office in White City, creating over 150 new jobs over the next year.

  • hiSky who are investing £8.3million in a new R&D Centre based in Harwell, Oxfordshire, creating 40 jobs over the next three years.

  • Optibus, who are opening their first office in London, creating 30 new jobs.

  • IMR Technologies, who announce their plans to headquarter their business in the UK, creating a new £3million investment.

  • GO1, an Australian education business, who will open their first European headquarters in Reading.

  • McConnel Ltd (Alamo Group), an agri-tech company who announce the expansion of their production facility in Ludlow, to manufacture remote controlled, robotic and autonomous vehicles.

  • Optiv, who are investing £1.2million into their UK operations, creating 90 more jobs at their Holborn office.

  • Job Today, who announce a £9million investment into the UK over the next three years, creating up to 30 new jobs.

  • Saggezza, who announce a further £1million investment into the UK, creating 80 new jobs, tripling their UK headcount.

Image credit - Image sourced via Pixabay

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