22nd May 2015
If you believe the headlines, the UK’s tech sector starts and ends in London.
A recent report from Boris Johnson’s office revealed investors had poured a whopping $1bn into the capital’s tech stars in the first nine months of the year alone – that’s a massive ten-fold increase in only four years.
There’s no disputing this is an impressive result, emphasising the city’s growing reputation for innovation and discovery. But having worked hand in glove promoting the West County’s annual tech Oscars – aka The SPARKies – I can attest to the strength of the Bath / Bristol tech cluster.
The region is renown for its historic Georgian architecture and shops – attractions that lure millions of tourists every year. But what’s gone virtually unreported is the growth in the region’s tech sector that’s taking place.
The numbers are impressive:
– it’s now worth £5bn and employs 30,000 people
– a report by the international consultants McKinsey identified the region as experiencing the fastest ‘internationally significant’ growth outside London
– the region hosts one of only six Science Cities in the UK
– Nesta, the UK’s leading independent think tank on innovation, named Bristol and Bath as two out of the nine creative hotspots in the UK
– the Bristol Robotics Laboratory is one of Europe’s largest robotics labs …. and four of eight SMEs chosen to take part in a recent government-sponsored robotics trade mission to California were from the Bristol and Bath region.
The local tech sector boasts innovative start-ups such as Open Bionics – using 3D printers to produce affordable robotic prosthetic limbs – to high-profile international businesses such as HP Labs, Toshiba and Intel.
Away from the tech angle, it’s also not a bad area to live – the Sunday Times recently named Bristol as the best city to live in Britain.
My advice for those wanting to be part of an established and growing tech sector at an exciting stage of its development is simple – ‘Go west young man’.