Tired of London
It turns out Dr Johnson was wrong. Tech companies are tiring of London, it seems, but they are certainly not tiring of life. Cities and towns across the country are outpacing the capital as hubs of digital innovation as commuters and companies decide to seek out a better life away from the packed tube trains and polluted air of the big smoke.
Between 2015 and 2016, London lost 93,000 workers to greener pastures outside the M25 corridor. It is not just people; tech companies, as befits their lack of roots and innovative natures, have been particularly quick to seek out pastures new, bringing the prospects of jobs and growth to smaller towns and cities.
According to the fifth UK Tech Innovation Index, which was put together by Digital Catapult in conjunction with the Open Data Institute, London has retained its crown as Britain’s biggest technology hub but growth in the capital has slowed dramatically compared with other areas.
Smaller cities have begun to carve out their own niches within the tech arena, with Liverpool and Reading becoming well known for companies related to IOT (Internet of Things) development and Leeds developing a significant reputation for healthcare, while Aberdeen and Coventry are leading the charge as manufacturing hubs.
Unicorn sighting in Wales
Wales could be uniquely poised to benefit from the exodus of talent from the capital. Cardiff is showing early signs of developing into a virtual reality hub and with new startups appearing both there and in Swansea on a weekly basis, those in the know expect to see Wales’s first unicorn (a startup valued at more than £1bn) before too long.
Experts put the growth down to a number of factors, including a regional government, local universities keen to build links, cheaper rents, and a better work-life balance for employees, especially those with families.
A Brexit blessing
With uncertainty over what the future will hold, not putting all its tech eggs into one basket is likely to be beneficial to the UK. Funding to support future tech initiatives is likely to be spread out more around the country rather than focused on the increasingly expensive capital.
Companies such as Raspberry Pi have flourished in both Cambridge and Wales, while tech firms now account for 40% of new office space leasing in Manchester.
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