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South East: Technology sector data unveiled in latest Tech Nation report

By Dan Teuton
17 March 2020

The South East tech sector has cemented its position as one of the UK’s leading tech hubs - with seven digital tech 'unicorns' and a pipeline of high-value scaleups.

The annual Tech Nation Report reveals key stats on the UK’s booming tech industry

South East, Tech Nation report headline findings:

  • £300 million total VC investment in 2019
  • £448m invested in emerging tech (2015-2019)
  • £281m invested in AI (2015-2019)
  • £36,000 digital tech salary (median)
  • 7 digital tech unicorns based in the South East of England (2019) - including Oxford Nanopore Technologies and Rightmove
  • 11 high-value tech scaleups (2019) - including ByBox and Osler Diagnostics


  • Oxford is one of the top 20 European investment tech cities, just after Helsinki and Dublin, with £200m raised in 2019

Elizabeth Corse, entrepreneur engagement manager, South East, Tech Nation, commented: “The South East is home to a wide range of important tech clusters  that specialise in emerging technology. We have strong AI hubs in the Thames Valley and Southampton, a thriving gaming and IOT sector in Surrey, a vibrant creatives and AR/VR  presence in Brighton and the Solent as well as dynamic digital health and  life sciences sectors in Oxfordshire which is also emerging as a cleantech hub.

“This year’s Tech Nation report highlights continued growth in the tech sector. The region is already home to seven digital tech unicorns, and with the right conditions including greater choice of early-stage financing (seed and Series investment) and by encouraging more diverse talent to join the sector, we will see another eleven companies come through the pipeline to reach unicorn status.”

Rafel Jorda Siquier, CEO, OpenCosmos, commented: "In four years Open Cosmos has gone from a garage to being a leading space company with a satellite in orbit and 10 more in the making for customers ranging from telecommunications to environmental monitoring. There are a few places in the world enabling this kind of growth and the UK has proven to be one."

Hannah Dawson, founder & CEO, Futrli, commented: "It's no surprise that the South East's technology sector continues to lead the way with regards to funding and valuations. We need to do our bit at Futrli to raise Brighton up into being one of Europe’s top 20 highest investment tech cities! What's great to see generally is that there has been £281m invested in AI in the South East over the last 4 years. I predict that over the following 4 years this will increase steeply as more companies use AI as the cornerstone of their B2C or B2B offering."

National findings:

  • Digital tech sector GVA grew nearly 6x faster than that of the rest of the UK economy in 2018 - contributing £149b to the UK economy and accounting for 7.7% of UK GVA
  • Digital tech employs 2.9m people in the UK, an increase of 40% from 2017 (now accounting for 9% of the national workforce)
  • 25% of Europe’s top 20 highest investment tech cities in 2019 are in the UK - Manchester, London, Bristol, Oxford and Cambridge
  • Manchester is the fastest growing European tech city, with an increase in investment of £48m to £181m from 2018 to 2019 – representing an increase of 277%.
  • 95 UK companies valued at between $250-$800m in the UK in 2019 - a 27% increase from 2018, in addition to the 77 $1b valued companies currently in the UK.

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