Only three years ago, the idea of Brexit alone spiralled fears for the UK tech industry. Here we are in 2021, with not only Brexit to send the country into a spin but also the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the tech industry seems to be on a positive upward spiral of its own as a result of booms of investment in fintech and edtech as the UK learned to adapt to the new world.
Technology firms in London attracted $10.5 billion in investment last year, which was more than Berlin, Stockholm and Paris combined. Back in 2017, fears began emerging that London would struggle to keep attracting talent and money as the EU would ‘turn off the tap’ for funding. But in 2020, the majority of funding came from non-Europeans, while over a third was from North America as venture capitalists move their money away from an already squeezed Silicon Valley and set their sights on the UK.
Revolut, Arrival, and Octopus Energy led the capital's tech firms to new highs according to a report released in January from Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London. Separate figures showed the UK's edtech sector also attracted a flood of new American investment. British edtech firms grew by 72% last year, while in the US they fell by 12%.
Nearly half of total edtech investment in Europe goes to the UK. In 2020, this was as a result of adapting to online learning, predominantly driven by Covid-19 which acted as an accelerator for the sector.
Many believe that the real impacts of Covid-19 or Brexit are yet to take effect. The pandemic has reduced the number of people in London offices, with budding tech entrepreneurs now managing a workforce scattered across the UK. On top of this, the UK still has to agree trading agreements for the financial sector with the EU, which could impact future investments.
As a result of last year’s turmoil, technology has moved centre stage and in many ways is helping solve the huge challenges companies currently face. As investment pours into the UK, and indeed neighbouring European nations, now is an opportune time to invest ‘in country’.
Many companies find it difficult to sell technology to a country without the investment of a HQ and “boots on the ground,” as each country has sales nuances and a different customer base. With the huge influx of tech investment, companies are looking to place top sales professionals on the ground in regions to gain first competitor advantage.
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