It’d be an understatement to say that tech hubs are thriving in and around the UK. In 2016, the UK secured £6.8 billion in funding – this is the highest in Europe, with France in 2nd place securing £2.4 billion. Whilst still an astronomical figure, it goes quite a way of emphasising just how vast the UK tech scene is at this time.
Around 5 years ago, if there was a conversation about the UK tech scene, it normally involved the Silicon Roundabout, positioned comfortably within Old Street, and only a stones throw away from Shoreditch. The Shoreditch and Old Street area still remains the stronghold of the UK tech scene – with over 280,000 developers in East London alone. However, in recent years there has been a breakout of tech hubs up and down the country.
It would be unfair to give all the credit to London for the UK’s thriving tech scene. Whilst the array of coffee shops and eateries may appeal to some, there are plenty of others who have removed themselves from the Silicon Roundabout scene to find a home elsewhere.
Manchester is well up there as a prosperous tech hub, with the likes of MoneySupermarket and The Hut employing just a portion of the 50,000 techies residing within the North West city. Edinburgh is also making a name for themselves, and they play home to global comparison site, SkyScanner. We’re also seeing a lot of London based techsperts upsticks to Cambridge with their New Cambridge North station linking up with both Kings Cross and London Liverpool Street. They’ve also seen homegrown company, ARM Holdings accept a $32 billion takeover deal from Softbank.
The calibre of the UK tech scene population is assisted by the array of top schooling within the British Isles, playing home to 8 of the top 20 European universities. Those that feature on this list are:
(In chronological order)
#1 University of Oxford
#2 University of Cambridge
#3 Imperial College London
#5 University College London
#6 London School of Economics and Political Science
#7 University of Edinburgh
#9 King’s College London
#15 University of Manchester
However, with over 53% of tech employees within East London being born outside the UK, the imminent dealings of Brexit bring with them some uncertainty for this thriving tech scene. Whilst the London tech scene continues to boom, some are looking elsewhere for future opportunities.
However, UK based European developers – fear not. London may be the epicentre of technology but it is far from a monopoly market.
The Horizon 2020 program have plowed billions into the European tech market, in addition to funding and mentoring from central governments, and so it’s safe to assume Europe is holding their own when it comes to the tech scene.
If you’re intrigued by a career on the other side of the channel but can’t pin down a location, here’s a few that may be worth looking into:
Whilst an obvious choice, with it being just a 2 hour train journey away. Paris is very much rivalling Berlin as London’s #1 challenger. In 2016 they raised 590 rounds of funding, more than any other European country. And they’re also in the process of building the world’s largest incubator.
Whilst Paris won 2016 in terms of funding, Berlin wasn’t far behind. And their flourishing culture is sure to attract those used to life in East London. They also received £1.4bn in funding within 2016.
Despite it being ⅓ of the size of Berlin in population it certainly isn’t lagging far behind when it comes to being a tech giant. Unicorn companies such as Skype, Minecraft, Spotify and King have a base within the Swedish capital. Given the size of their economy they’re giving the likes of Germany, UK, Spain and Italy a run for their money.
Having played second fiddle to Finnish city Espoo, the home of Nokia, for a number of years, Helsinki is finally stating its place as the main tech hub within Europe. It’s made a name for itself within mobile game development with the likes of Angry Birds and Clash of Clans coming out of the Nordic country.
Known as more of a travel hub than tech, Amsterdam is an attractive investment destination with a large number of flights leading to the Dutch capital. In the 90’s their success stories included the birth of Booking.com and TomTom. With startups raising a total of £270m in 2016, Amsterdam sure has the investment and culture to play home to the tech community.
Whilst the country currently deals with its own political issues, Barcelona may seem like a less attractive destination for those eyeing a move, but this should be far from a diverter. It’s success stories include the likes of eDreams and Softonic and access to seed funding is around every corner, making it a desirable location for entrepreneurs.
If you’re willing to travel a little further, the good folks in Canada are certainly making a name for themselves. Silicon Valley North is a vision growing in the Great White North. As they move forward they’re looking to fill the 70 mile stretch between Toronto and Kitchener with a variety of up and coming tech companies. This stretch, otherwise known as the ‘Corridor’ is already filled with the likes of Google and Shopify and shows no signs of going quiet – with plenty of techies from the US looking to move away from a Trump reign.
It’s safe to say London is running the European tech scene at the moment, and despite uncertainty surrounding Brexit, it certainly seems as though this won’t dampen any reputation it currently has. And whilst it continues to thrive, it’ll certainly have challengers both within the UK and across both ponds.
Oh and apparently there’s some stuff happening in the San Francisco area…