TNT Direct’s Tech City Index: Where are the Emerging UK Tech Hubs?
The UK is home to a wide range of industries with one of the biggest being the tech sector. This niche has seen substantial growth and development in the last decade in terms of the number of new SMEs and successful businesses, thanks chiefly to the rise in the popularity of ecommerce.
However, the tech sector isn’t exclusive to one area of the UK as after taking a closer look at the industry, we discovered that there are in fact a number of emerging tech hubs in cities all over the country.
Using this research, we then ranked these into a top 10 ‘tech city index’ against a range of different criteria and variables.
The Top 10
As our table shows, Reading came out on top, followed by Bristol and Leeds in second and third respectively.
You might also be surprised to see London in sixth place, despite the UK capital being home to thousands of new and upcoming SMEs and thriving business opportunities.
What our research revealed was that there were a number of factors that were to London’s detriment.
So how did we determine this ranking?
A Closer Look at the Data: How we Did it
As you can see from the table, we looked into 10 different factors related to the tech sector across the UK’s 69 major cities, these were:
- The number of existing tech businesses
- The number of people employed by these businesses
- The overall employment rate within the tech sector
- The number of current tech jobs being advertised
- The current number of available Engineering and Technology courses available in the city
- The current number of tech start-up births
- The average one-year survival rates of tech start-ups
- The average five-year survival rates of tech start-ups
- The average cost of ‘Grade A’ office space in the city
- The current estimated broadband speed
Using official bodies like the ONS, Nomis and Adzuna, we were able to source the data for each variable for every UK city. It was then a matter of indexing this information numerically and seeing which locations scored the best overall.
The table above highlights in green the number one rankings among the top 10, but the table of statistics below breaks down three examples of the raw data which helps justify why Reading came out on top.
The three data sets here are ‘start-up survival rate over five years’, the ‘estimated download speed’ and the ‘average cost of ‘Grade A’ office space’. As you can see, Reading’s survival rate is strong, it has a high score for broadband speed and has a relatively modest cost for office space.
The table also makes a clearer case for why London only managed sixth place. Ultimately, despite having the fastest internet speeds, the capital is much more expensive than other cities for office space and has a lower five-year survival rate than most. However, its impressive broadband opportunities and employment rates still mean it features in the top 10.
Other Notable Data
The above stats were just some of the reasons Reading achieved the top spot as an emerging tech hub, other positives were that this city scored well for:
- The one-year start-up survival rate
- The number of people employed in tech jobs
- The overall tech employment rate
Beyond this though, other notable points we gathered about the top 10 cities included:
- Current estimates show that there are over 230,000 tech businesses across these locations
- These SMEs employ upwards of 400,000 people
- There are nearly 29,000 new, emerging tech businesses
- None of the top 10 cities ranked below the top 20 for any of our index criteria
These figures again help make a strong case for the tech industry being one of the fastest-growing and emerging sectors in the country.
What SMEs can Learn
Along with the clear point that all these emerging tech hubs could offer SMEs a range of business opportunities, there are other key learnings those looking to get involved with this industry can take away.
Firstly, it can be a good idea to look at the bigger picture in terms of employment and training opportunities, particularly if you’re just starting up a tech SME. This is because it can make your initial set up and subsequent expansion easier with better access to a pool of potential new team members or graduates. The cities in our index certainly can provide in this respect, but if you’re looking further afield this could be something to research first.
In addition to this, facilities can be important, particularly the internet. The chances are that these tech hubs are heavily involved with ecommerce, which can become problematic to manage without fast broadband connections. On top of this, such ecommerce platforms could benefit from integrated delivery services like the ones we have to offer and can be a great way to streamline your logistics and make them easier to manage.
Lastly, the cost of ‘Grade A’ office space was quite a significant expense in several cities. So, if you are looking to make your start-up a more affordable venture it might be a better option to head to a smaller city or one of the emerging locations listed in our index.
So, as alluded to above, whether you want to expand into the tech sector or you’re just launching another tech SME then why not consider some of the top 10 emerging hubs from our index? These locations could give your new business a boost and open you up to the potential benefits they have to offer that we’ve uncovered from our research.
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