The UK Government has announced a £21m investment to create a network of technology hubs in areas across the country. It also said that Tech City UK and Tech North would combine to become a national organisation, Tech Nation, “to speed up the growth of the UK’s pioneering and innovative digital companies and clusters, helping spread the benefits even further”.
Building on Tech City UK’s work helping to turn London’s ‘Silicon Roundabout’ into a globally recognised technology hub, the funding will see the new Tech Nation work alongside existing technology partners and business organisations to accelerate the expansion already underway by rolling out its tech-hub model.
Two of the hubs will be located in Edinburgh and Glasgow.
As part of the plans, Tech City UK will give more than 40,000 people the opportunity to develop the skills needed to start or grow a digital business and will offer support for up to 4,000 UK tech businesses through targeted growth programmes.
UK Minister for Digital, Matt Hancock, said: “This new funding is an important part of our plans to make the UK the best place in the world to start and grow a digital business, with the benefits spread right across the country.
“This regional network will accelerate the growth of the digital tech sector, cement the pipeline of talent and spark the next generation of innovative firms to seize the future opportunities of digitisation – bringing jobs, skills and higher productivity to our regions.”
Eleven regional hubs will form the backbone of a “national network of digital excellence to reflect the country’s standing as a global powerhouse for tech industries,” the Government said in a statement and help it achieve aims outlined in its Industrial and Digital Strategies.
The funding will also help entrepreneurs in emerging tech sectors, such as artificial intelligence and Fintech, by connecting them to peers and potential investors in other hubs across the country and by offering tailored development programmes.
Gerard Grech, chief executive of Tech City UK, said: “Tech Nation will help transform the UK from a series of standalone tech clusters into a powerful national network that will reinforce the UK’s position at the top of global tech rankings. This will ensure we continue to be at the forefront of digital innovation, developing tech talent and attracting international investment.”
Eileen Burbidge, the organisation’s chair, added: “We are delighted to hear that the Government wants to increase Tech City UK’s funding for the next four years.
“Under the Tech Nation banner, this country that has brought so much innovation to the world and leads in sub-sectors such as fintech, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, robotics and life sciences will build a national network of digital excellence so that the UK will continue to be recognised as one of the best places in the world to start or grow a digital tech business.”
Tech North programmes such as Founders Network and Northern Stars will be extended nationally, and existing national programmes such as Future Fifty and Upscale will be strengthened, the Government said.