In the UK, information and communication technologies and the digital sector are booming and becoming a major job creator.

Silicon Valley had better watch out. London and indeed the UK as a whole is preparing to steal the show! “In Silicon Valley we’re often too busy bathing in our private sunshine. But the change in London's technology climate has got us checking our weather apps,” warned Michael Moritz, chairman of US venture capital firm Sequoia Capital. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg agreed, describing London as a "real challenger to Silicon Valley". Both men were standing alongside the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, at the launch of London Technology Week on 16 June, hailed as the first ever Technology Week held in London to showcase new technologies and innovation ‘made in the UK’.

The doors to innovation are open

“Digital technology is transforming London into a major European centre,” declared the capital’s Mayor. “London is one of the fastest growing tech hubs and is proving its credentials as the location of choice for entrepreneurs to start and scale a successful digital business,” underlined Joanna Shields, a US-British business executive who chairs the Tech City UK technology cluster. The dynamism of the high tech sector in the UK makes for very positive forecasts. In ten years, in 2024, the sector is expected to account for £12 billion (€15 billion) worth of additional economic activity, with annual growth of 5.1%. As regards employment, this should translate into 46,000 new jobs in the capital, according to a study commissioned by London’s official promotional organisation, London & Partners and carried out by global forecasting and quantitative analysis firm Oxford Economics.

Tech cafés a venue to make useful connections

The UK’s inventive dynamism has been driven in particular by mathematics faculties and students at the University of Cambridge. Another study, carried out in parallel by emerging occupations and industries tracker South Mountain Economics for Bloomberg Philanthropies, indicates that the technology sector is growing faster in London and in Oxford (south-east UK) and Cambridge (east UK) than in California. “Government, investors, developers and startups are all heavily involved in this process,” pointed out Joanna Shields. This robust London ecosystem now numbers some 3,000 incubators, and there are more elsewhere in the country. “Tech cafés, which provide a venue for entrepreneurs to meet up, play an important role as they foster project creation and enable entrepreneurs to join forces,” explains Shields. Currently, the UK’s strongest area of ICT achievement is the financial technology field. London creates more jobs in this sector than San Francisco or Silicon Valley.

By Virginie de Kerautem