Category: UKTCG News

UKTCG calls for digital innovation policies to benefit all regions of the UK

The UK Tech Cluster Group (UKTCG) has launched a report outlining how the next
Government can harness the potential of the country’s tech ecosystems to support
businesses and people right across the UK.

Launched at a Parliamentary reception on January 9, hosted by Alex Davies-Jones MP, the
in-depth report sets out four ways in which development of the tech industry can support
social mobility and economic growth.

Katie Gallagher OBE, chair of the UKTCG and managing director of Manchester Digital,
said: “In launching the report and our ‘Four Big Ideas’, we’re calling for Government to
harness the huge potential of technology and the tech industry to unlock the potential in
every region of the UK.

“Across the UK, we have numerous strong and individual tech ecosystems. By creating a
digital and innovation policy which supports business and individuals in each region, we can
support true social mobility and see real opportunity for businesses to grow alongside the
fast-moving innovation within tech.

“In setting out ‘Four Big Ideas’ for the next government, we are ready to help ensure new
technologies unlock the potential of every business, every person, and every place. If we
want our sector and our local communities to go far, then we need to go together.”
Alex Davies-Jones MP said: “Ensuring all people and businesses across the UK can
participate in and benefit from a growing digital economy is vital to our shared success.
“This report from the UK Tech Cluster Group outlines four crucial ways in which Whitehall,
local leadership and industry can better work together to help every place to reach their

“New technologies can support and grow businesses in all corners of our country and offer
opportunities for exciting new careers in every community. But we need to work together to
ensure national policy encourages local innovation. I welcome this report at a crucial
juncture for our economy.”

The in-depth report has identified ‘Four Big Ideas to Harness Tech’s Potential Across the
UK’. They are:

  • A globally competitive tech talent pipeline in every region: ensuring the economy
    delivers opportunity for all and drives social mobility by unlocking tech talent.
  • Driving digital innovation at the foundations: ensuring every business can understand
    and benefit from the opportunities which tech brings.
  • A UK Innovation Policy which gives every place a chance: by embedding digital tech
    at the heart of regional development strategies and incentivising collaboration.
  • Mobilising ecosystems to help businesses to start and grow: by recognising that
    ‘place’ matters, and tech communities can underpin the success of devolution.

Katie added, “We see this moment as a start of a conversation about how good practice
from the grassroots can inform better delivery through a new partnership with Whitehall. We
need to learn the lessons from the last decade of centralised tech policy and delivery
through departmental silos, which has left so much potential untapped. As grassroots tech
leaders, we look forward to working with Parliamentarians to put our plans into action.”

The UK Tech Cluster Group (UKTCG) brings together tech organisations from every region
and nation of the UK to help them thrive.

Download your copy of the report here.

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Meeting Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State to discuss the growth of tech across the UK

The UK Tech Cluster Group (UKTCG) welcomed the Shadow Secretary of State Lucy Powell to Manchester Technology Centre for a meeting on the future of digital tech across the UK. 

Lucy, who is also the MP for Manchester Central, talked about Labour’s upcoming plans for the digital economy. Katie Gallagher, MD of Manchester Digital and chair of the UKTCG, and group members provided insights from their work with businesses about what is needed to unlock the full potential of the tech economy right across the UK.    

Lucy Powell outlined that as the official opposition, the Labour Party are keen to support all parts of the UK and ensure that digital regulation, data and AI policies nationally underpin the work of local and regional leadership and businesses across the UK in delivering a world-leading tech economy which works for all communities. 

Lucy explained, “We are keen to work with the tech industry in all parts of the UK. With proper devolution, local leaders could design their own programmes and decide how funding is allocated without the expense and time of bidding to multiple fundings pots held in Whitehall.” 

Phil Jones, director of innovation at Wired Sussex, said: “The ‘connective tissue’ of our local and regional ecosystems are crucial to driving innovation – both for high productivity businesses, and in the foundational economies. Through our work at the grassroots, we see practical ways to support more people and companies to benefit from the opportunities which the digital economy creates. 

“As a sector, we are keen to help young people really understand the wide variety of career pathways within the industry with huge scope for progression. We also need a more supportive environment for the Angel sector, and a better way to connect early-stage start-ups with Angel investors. All of this would create a wider ‘connective tissue’ to support the growth of the tech industry.”

David Dunn, CEO at Sunderland Software City, agreed, “It’s really important that we reach into schools to help develop the tech pipeline. So we need to create more talent, from school age to ensure we have a growing pathway into the tech industry.” 

Katie outlined some current limitations of the Apprenticeship Levy. “We would like to see the opportunities for smaller employers, who often don’t take on apprentices for fear of the unknown. It would be great to see an awareness campaign as well as some level of reform around how businesses can use the Levy.

“The funding that goes into Business Growth Hubs, for example, is for generic businesses, not specifically tech or startups. Devolution can help the tech sector as local leadership and their business community know where they need specific funding.”

Katie reiterated how important it was to include smaller tech clusters in wider programmes, otherwise they frequently miss out. 

Phil added, “Engaging with partners on the ground who collectively understand industry needs and barriers to growth and inclusion, is crucial to ensuring all parts of the UK are able to share in the success of our tech sector.”

Yiannis Maos, CEO of Birmingham Tech, expanded on this, “We need to support our tech SMEs to reach their potential  because that’s where growth happens. This also creates jobs in our communities and drives innovation across the economy.”

The UK Tech Cluster Group works with Government and Parliamentarians as well as local leadership, industry and partners within our clusters. Members are represented on the Government’s Digital Economy Council and Digital Skills Council and collaborate nationally to support the smart, sustainable and inclusive growth of the UK’s tech ecosystems.

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New Government digital strategy launched

By Katie Gallagher, chair of the UK Tech Cluster Group and MD of Manchester Digital

The Government announced its new Digital Strategy today, coinciding with London Tech Week, which is a little bit ironic, given all its talk of levelling up to the regions over the past year. However, it is heartening to see that there is acknowledgment of the growing importance of regional tech ecosystems with the government predicting that regional ecosystems could contribute an additional £41.4bn to GVA by 2025.

The document is an update to its predecessor from 2017 – which seems far more than five years ago, given everything that has happened in the UK since then. 

As the UK economy falters after the pandemic spending spree, the Government is placing its hope for the future in tech, digital and innovation. The report states that the UK saw £27.4 billion private capital invested in tech last year, more than any other European country. Cisco predicts that a more inclusive digital strategy could add £168 billion to the UK economy by 2030. The updated vision from DCMS is that the UK will be the best place in the world to start and grow a tech business.  

The newly released paper covers six areas that the Government will focus on to achieve their aims: 

New digital regulations – creating a digital infrastructure to protect citizens and ensure that tech and digital security and intellectual property is defended. 

Ideas and intellectual property – Government investment into research and development as well as R&D tax incentives, as well as growing AI, next-generation semi-conductors, digital twins, autonomous systems and quantum computing. 

Digital skills and talent – working with schools, universities and further education to develop tech and digital skills, as well as continuing to invest in apprenticeships, T-Levels and other digital training – and opening up new visa routes. 

Financing digital growth – continuing to support innovation and growth financing, as well as continuing to promote the London Stock Exchange. 

Levelling up and public services – creating better access to digital technologies across the whole of the UK. 

Enhancing the UK’s place as a global tech power – promoting better global trade, which is also linked to a forthcoming International Tech Strategy. 

I have recently been appointed to the Government’s Digital Skills Council which is currently looking at how we can combine the levelling up agenda with digital skills and tech growth. If this Government is going to create an enviable global tech hub, then it must work quickly to include the whole of the UK, and not just London. 

As chair of the UK Tech Cluster Group, I work hard with colleagues from the other regions and nations to raise the  profile of regional tech ecosystems and help national and regional governments understand the best ways to support and grow them.

Across the UK, regional tech ecosystems have many of the same core issues but they are also at different stages of their development, with different specialisms and differing levels of provision, whether that is access to funding, the right skills supply or scale up support.

The only way that levelling up the tech industry will work is if it happens at a grass roots level and any intervention from the Government is flexible enough to meet the nuanced needs of the regions and nations. 

In addition to this, the regional tech eco-systems have a huge role to play in developing R&D capacity, in terms of outgoings and cost, so I would love to see these assets developed. While they have less capital outgoings on rent, salaries etc, there is more budget available to go into equipment and research. A relatively small number of highly innovative and fast-growing businesses, stemming from this localised innovation, can make a huge difference to the prosperity of smaller towns and cities.

Overall, we welcome the new Digital Strategy and its ambitions. However, it is absolutely vital for the Government to realise what already exists in the regions. Grassroots tech organisations work incredibly hard to support start-ups, create role model programmes for youngsters and developing tech apprenticeships – all without huge amounts of investment. 

Imagine what we could achieve with significant amounts of investment…

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New chair appointed for UK Tech Cluster Group 

A new chair has been appointed to head up the UK Tech Cluster Group (UKTCG) to continue to support regional tech eco-systems as we begin the post-pandemic recovery.  

Katie Gallagher was nominated to take over the role from Dr David Dunn, CEO of Sunderland Software City, after four years at the helm. 

Katie has been the Managing Director of Manchester Digital for 10 years and was a founding board member of the UK Tech Cluster Group when it was set up in 2018. She has worked closely with the organisation and other bodies to champion the tech and digital industry across all of the UK regions. 

She said: “I’m thrilled to be voted as the chair and pick up the excellent work began by David. We launched in 2018 to share crucial insights, affect policy change and, importantly, provide a single voice for tech organisations across the UK regions. 

“Moving forwards, we are pleased to continue working together at a grassroots level to share connections and best practice across the different regions, as well as being part of the Levelling Up conversation.  

“Overcoming the lack of talent, increasing sector collaboration and driving R&D activity are all areas we know that our industry wants us to focus on. In addition to this, we have seen a decline in early-stage start-ups and need to reinvigorate that pipeline and ensure the right support gets to the right people within the tech industry. 

“Lastly, I’d like to thank David for his huge amounts of hard work over the past four years and I look forward to continue to work alongside him as part of the cluster group.”

Dr David Dunn said: “I’m delighted to see Katie take over the reins as chairperson for the UK Tech Cluster Group. We’ve made huge progress in creating a forum where regional tech organisations can work together for the greater good, as well as supporting each other, and I know that Katie will continue on this trajectory.” 

The UK Tech Cluster Group was founded to bring together tech organisations who understand local ecosystems and share learning of how best to support tech growth across the UK.

The UKTCG works closely with government departments to provide regional intelligence, influence national policy changes and share their on-the-ground insights into the widely varying UK regions. 

The group meets regularly to discuss current trends around the tech industry, share best practice and build stronger regional economies. 

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12 Clusters of Tech – final two reports now available.

The final two reports in the 12 Clusters of Tech series, focusing on the South East and London, have now been published.

Over the past twelve months, the UK Tech Cluster Group has worked in collaboration with London Tech Week to create a series of reports that explore the unique ecosystems and tech trends in every region of the UK. The objective of the campaign was to map the UK tech scene and provide a detailed overview of the specialisms, business success stories and emerging innovators that make the UK’s technology sector such an economic powerhouse.

The 12 reports cover the North East, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Yorkshire & the Humber, the North West, Wales, the West Midlands, East Midlands, East of England, the South West, South East and finally London. View and download the reports here.

London Tech Week 2021 takes place from the 20th to the 24th of September and promises to gather the world’s most inspirational founders, global leaders, senior investors and rising stars to collaborate and discuss the vital role of technology in society. The festival’s purpose is to showcase how tech is transforming both business and society by driving important conversations around transformation, diversity and innovation.

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South West cluster report published

The South West is the latest region to be covered in the “12 Clusters of Tech” series produced by the UK Tech Cluster Group in collaboration with London Tech Week.

The report, which is the tenth in the series, covers:

  • An overview of the tech landscape in South West of England
  • Profiles on the Established Tech Leaders ( including Dyson, IMDb and Future Publishing)
  • Scaleup Stories (the tech companies spearheading growth)
  • Ones to Watch (uncover the rising stars…)
  • Deep dive into the region’s cluster hotspots including Telecoms, CreaTech and Data/AI

The final two reports, to be published over the summer, will cover the South East and London. All of the reports published so far are available from the London Tech Week website.

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12 Clusters of Tech Update

The East of England is the focus of the latest “12 Clusters of Tech” report, produced by the UK Tech Cluster Group in collaboration with London Tech Week.

The ‘12 Clusters of Tech’ initiative, launched at the end of last year, is exploring the unique ecosystems and tech trends in every region of the UK.

The campaign aims to definitively map the UK tech scene, highlighting and promoting the best businesses, innovators and thinkers operating in all corners of the UK.

Nine reports have now been published, covering:

  • The North East
  • Scotland
  • Northern Ireland
  • Yorkshire and the Humber
  • The North West
  • Wales
  • The West Midlands
  • The East of England

The reports shine a spotlight on businesses, highlighting startups, SMEs and the established bigger companies which together form the engine room of Britain’s booming tech sector.

All of the reports are available on the London Tech Week website.

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Birmingham Tech joins UK Tech Cluster Group

Birmingham Tech CIC, the organisation responsible for promoting and coordinating the West Midlands Tech ecosystem, has joined the UK Tech Cluster Group (UKTCG), a group of organisations that work with and have a deep insight into geographical clusters of technology and digital businesses across the UK.

Birmingham Tech will now share knowledge from the West Midlands tech ecosystem, joining other regional tech clusters across the UK.

Yiannis Maos, CEO of Birmingham Tech commented:

“It’s great to be working with the UK Tech Cluster Group and we are very proud to be feeding in understanding of the West Midlands region. Through this new appointment, we will continue to work closely with our partners to ensure newfound insight and opportunities are shared – enabling an ecosystem built on collaboration and knowledge. This comes at an exciting time for the West Midlands tech cluster with EA’s recent acquisition of Codemasters for $1.2 billion and Goldman Sachs announcing they are to open a Tech Hub in Birmingham. Working with the UKTCG will also ensure we collectively make the case for more investment in our tech clusters.”

The organisations that make up the UKTCG are all focused on growing tech businesses, championing innovation and building stronger regional economies. Together, they work with thousands of companies and organisations, delivering regional programmes and events and connecting businesses with collaborators, funders and talent.

David Dunn, Chair of the UK Tech Cluster Group and CEO of Sunderland Software City, commented:

“It’s great to have Birmingham Tech join the UKTCG and have Yiannis join our team. We already have a wealth of insight from across the UK and having the West Midlands represented will only strengthen our knowledge and capability – making our voice even stronger at national level. Working alongside Birmingham Tech and our other representatives, we will continue to ensure that our regional tech clusters get the support they need to drive forward our regional economies.”

The UKTCG, in collaboration with London Tech Week, recently published the 12 Clusters of Tech report into the West Midlands which highlights some of the 13,000 tech firms employing over 100,000 people across the region. You can read the report here.

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