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Purveyors of Growth

The bluffer’s guide to the UK tech scene


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Do you want to know more about what is going on in the UK’s tech scene? Then you’re in the right place – here is my 5 minute bluffers guide to the UK tech scene.

Like many industries, London dominates the UK tech scene. Somewhat unsurprising as London is the nation’s capital and a truly global city of over 8 and half million people. According to the latest research, London has 328,000 tech jobs, compared to Manchester in second place with 52,000. The capital also enjoys the benefits of established industries colliding with tech like finance, fashion, tech, advertising and creative.

The Global Startup Ecosystem Ranking report produced by Compass (lastest edition was 2015) places London as the leading European Startup ecosystem, ranking 6th globally. Berlin is the only other European city in the Top 10, in 9th place.

In such a large city there is increasingly no one single ‘place to be’. Historically the early stage startup cluster has been located in the East of the city in a district called Shoreditch. In the fashion of prefixing anything tech related with “silicon”, the moniker “Silicon Roundabout” was coined in a tweet by Matt Biddulph to describe the London startup cluster, centred on the Old Street roundabout. However over the past decade, landlords have gotten wise to the fact that the once run down area is now a hot commodity. Inevitably rents are skyrocketing, forcing many of the early stage companies that made Shoreditch so desirable in the first place to look for alternatives. Check out our Practical field guide to the UK’s top co-working spots for our suggestions.

You may also come across the term Tech City. This is governmental organisation, launched in 2010 by then UK Prime Minister David Cameron to support and shine a light on the East London tech cluster. After criticism that London was seeing all the investment and PR, Tech City has widened its role to incorporate Manchester and the North of England under the Tech North programme.

Outside of London

Yes, there is more to the UK than just London! In fact 75% of all digital businesses are based outside of the capital. This is a something we have been championing for a number of years – in fact you can still read James’s 2013 Guardian article on the subject.


The city has seen an influx of digital investment with the relocation of the BBC into the city. It has a vibrant tech community and supports a number of tech conferences. It has the second highest number of digital jobs in the UK after London.


Together Glasgow and Edinburgh are the base for many significant companies including Morgan Stanley, BBC, Amazon, Cisco and Skyscanner. Edinburgh is also home to the Turing Tech Festival.

North of England

On top of Manchester there is a wealth of Tech activity in the North. Liverpool, Leeds, Newcastle all have thriving communities.

East of England

University city, Cambridge leads the way in the East with access to academia and research. Cambridge is also the home to the global success story, chipset design company ARM.

South of England

Brighton has developed a strong reputation for digital creative companies. It has a high density of digital jobs for its size at 23%.

West of England

The Bristol and Bath cluster combine for 36,500 digital jobs with strong university ties.

There is only so much we can cover in a relatively short article, and I don’t want to upset anyone by not naming checking them here! There are hundreds of innovative companies the length and breadth of the UK. You can learn about them in two great in depth reports from Tech City – Tech Nation and the Digital Tech Powerhouse report.

Next Steps

1 MINUTE: Get your finger on the pulse by signing up for our weekly London tech newsletter
5 MINUTES: Read our Practical field guide to UK’s top co-working spots
5 MINUTES: Lets talk. Click this link to book in a 30 min conversation
1 HOUR +: Read the Tech Nation Report
1 HOUR +: Read the Digital Tech Powerhouse Report
1 HOUR +: Read the Global Startup Ecosystem Ranking Report

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