Are we a ‘Tech Nation’? Not quite yet…
You may have seen the phrase ‘Tech Nation’ banded about in the media but what does it mean? Well, it’s an interactive data project – developed by Tech City UK – that shows the growth of digital businesses within specific regions across the UK.
David Cameron, UK Prime Minister, said of the Government backed organization, “Backing the industries of the future is a key part of our long-term economic plan to support business, create more jobs and build a more resilient economy. The digital economy has become an integral part of our country and the rapid growth of many digital businesses has confirmed Britain’s position as a global hub of technology excellence.”
Whilst I think we should be very proud of how technology has grown in the UK – there are 1.46m digital jobs across the country and British train ticket-booking website TheTrainline.com, is moving forwards the first UK tech IPO of 2015 – in reality, we’ve actually barely started. How many FTSE 100/250 tech firms are there? Not many. There’s only one IT company listed in the FTSE 100. In fact, the latest Government report demands an ambitious approach to secure the UK’s position as a digital leader.
So how can we build on the momentum so far? Well, firstly we need to get more young people interested in science and technology; ICT in education needs to be stepped up a gear and fast. For instance, why isn’t coding taught as part of the national curriculum? Our ‘Tech Nation’ is also too focused on B2C, we need more great B2B enterprises, and the city should be more focused on technology – we’re the world’s number one financial centre but the understanding of the tech businesses here is extremely low. Maybe that’s why there are so few IPOs here? Finally, the Government could stop taxing people so heavily and reduce the cost of public sector.
The UK needs to get up to speed, and lead, on technology in order to support modern business. For more of my thoughts on the UK’s ‘Tech Nation’ take a look at my recent article in Fresh Business Thinking.