This week top government officials are heading to Nordic countries and Asia to, essentially, bang the drum for British tech.
With the uncertainty of Brexit showing no signs of shifting, despite the EU Withdrawal Bill passing its latest parliamentary hurdle and the irrepressible enthusiasm of a certain Foreign Secretary, securing tech trade links and opportunities outside of mainland Europe is as high on government agenda as carving the best deal closer to home.
Tech firm growth in the UK is spread right across the country, with more than two thirds of UK investment in the sector outside London last year.
Since 2001, new technologies have created 3.5m new jobs in the UK and London has more people working in fintech than any other city in the world – standing at a reported 44,000 in 2016.
The Government’s recent Digital Strategy followed its Industrial Strategy, which aims to create an economy that helps Britain secure a future as a competitive, global nation.
But what is actually being done?
Join us as look at what it is the government is up to, and why, in our latest international tech sector focus.
Where are officials heading?
Attempting to lay the foundations for Britain’s post-Brexit economy and execute the government’s Digital Strategy, Karen Bradley (pictured below) – Strategy Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport – and Matt Hancock – the Digital Minister – are this week flying to Finland and Sweden and Singapore, respectively.
Karen Bradley will travel to Finland and Sweden where she will set out the government’s commitment to growing the UK’s digital economy, which is worth more than £118bn a year and employs more than 1.4 million people.
Meanwhile, Matt Hancock will be leading a trade mission of UK cyber firms to Singapore, another ministerial visit following the PM’s recent trip to Japan, to strengthen ties and build new trade connections.
What will the duo be doing?
Both officials will promote the benefits of investing in the UK and the benefits of collaboration with UK companies.
According to the government, the pair will set out that the UK remains a strong place for investment with particular strengths across the tech sector, including in AI, govtech, gaming and cyber security, and that the 2017 Tech Nation report placed the figure for tech investment in the UK at £6.8bn.
Why Finland and Sweden?
The Nordic region is the fastest growing start-up region in Europe, so the Secretary of State will meet investors and companies at two of the region’s leading tech hubs.
Karen Bradley will head to Helsinki’s Start-up Sauna (pictured below), which includes Leadfeeder, a start-up with partners in the UK, and Stockholm’s Sup46, which produced Skype and Spotify and brought a delegation to London Tech Week in June this year.
Moreover, she will visit established telecoms company Ericsson where she will reportedly promote further cooperation in next generation mobile technology, 5G. The UK is at the forefront of testing and trialing the technology and Swedish firm Ericsson is currently collaborating on one of the Government’s £16 5G test networks at King’s College in London, announced earlier this year.
Bradley also intends to highlight the UK’s expertise as she visits Finland’s Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats and Sweden’s Civil Contingencies Agency. This follows a recent Swedish delegation visiting the UK’s world-leading National Cyber Security Centre.
Karen Bradley commented: “Britain has become an undisputed European hub for tech investment, with twice as much investment in tech as any other European country, and plans set out in our recent Digital Strategy will help make sure this continues.
“I’ll be in FInland and Sweden to showcase and promote the UK’s booming digital economy and outline how deeper collaboration with our world-leading companies can benefit both regions.”
The UK is a world leader in cyber security and committed to working with like-minded partners to target and defend against threats.
Moreover, Britain’s cyber security sector has grown from an estimated £2.8bn in 2011 to £22bn in 2015. To stress potential further, the UK’s cyber security workforce has increased by 160% since 2011.
Digital Minister Matt Hancock (pictured below) will lead a UK cyber security delegation, including companies such as Deep Secure, Digital Shadows, Immersive Labs and NNC Group, to Singapore International Cyber Week at the GovWare Conference. In the same week DiT and InnovateUK will also lead other trade missions to the TechInnovation event.
In addition, Hancock will open the Singapore International Cyber Week to engage an audience of international ministers on the UK’s priorities and showcase the UK as a world leader in digital, tech and cyber innovation.
Click here to read our guide on keeping your business digitally-safe.
The trip will also include a visit to Japan to celebrate the work of the UK’s hugely successful video games industry on a visit to Sega, the nation’s leadership in digital innovation as he visits Sony, and promote the country’s fintech, AI, robotics and 5G sectors.
Matt Hancock said: “The UK is a world leader in cyber security and our industry is thriving with exports worth nearly £1.5 billion last year. I’m determined to help the next generation of firms grow as we build a truly global Britain and hope to make real progress by leading a delegation including some of the nation’s most innovative businesses.”
Whether you voted Remain, Leave or abstained from both, it’s fair to say that the process of leaving the European Union has been arduous at best.
With uncertainty prevailing and fear growing of a ‘bad deal’, it’s reassuring that the government has committed not only to efforts outside of mainland Europe but that’s it’s targeting fertile land for British tech growth.
As Brexit talks continue it is vital that the government maintains this momentum and continues to look at areas of the world with potential returns for the British economy.
We know what the government is doing, we know why it’s doing it. Now it’s time for the hard part, forging new connections that will ultimately provide value for British businesses moving forward.
Have your say
Are the upcoming international visits a positive thing for Britain moving forward? Is the government talking to the right countries to encourage future growth? Which other countries should the government be dealing with to stimulate tech success at home and abroad?
Share your thoughts in the comments section below.