TECH NATION REPORT 2021: Key findings from the South West

Last month marked an exciting date in the diary for the tech community, with the much-anticipated Tech Nation Report 2021 landing hot off the press and into our inboxes.

Now in its 7th year, the report lifts the lid on the UK tech scene in 2020, revealing valuable information such as top performers, challenges and opportunities within the industry, and how tech pioneers are driving recovery from the pandemic. 

The report gives an overview of the performance of the UK tech industry, benchmarking us against other European tech hubs in various categories such as investment and emerging tech.  One of the key statistics outlined in the report was that UK tech VC investment is third in the world. In 2020 a year of challenging conditions, to say the least the country managed to hit a record high of $15bn.

In this article, we’ll be taking a look at some of the key findings of the report relating to the south-west tech sector.

Southwest tech investment on the rise

According to the latest Tech Nation report, Bristol and Bath ranked as the 3rd largest hub for tech investment in the UK, with businesses raising an impressive $414m. Bristol and Bath also ranked 12th across Europe for investment in tech. 

In recent years, the South West has shown serious pioneering spirit, spearheading the development of robotics and autonomous vehicles, and home to two billion-dollar ‘unicorn’ companies: tech business, Graphcore and energy firm, OVO. On top of this, it’s home to some fantastic accelerator hubs that make this happen, including SETSquared, Bristol Robotics Lab, Entrepreneurial Spark, and more.

A hotbed of opportunities

The coronavirus pandemic has been incredibly tough for both businesses and employees, with the Office for National Statistics reporting a four-year high in unemployment levels in the UK.

Despite this, the burgeoning South West tech scene appears to have remained strong, with the Tech Nation report sharing the finding that the region has almost 17,500 firms, employing 68,000 people and turning over an impressive £9bn.

The tech sector is expanding rapidly, with a growing list of internationally-recognised businesses that are offering pioneering solutions in so many different areas. It’s incredibly promising for the region to see that this is resulting in a magnitude of job opportunities, helping in the recovery of the UK economy. 

Diversity in the south-west remains a problem

While we would absolutely love to just focus on all the good stuff, it’s important to highlight findings from the report that showcase the need for improvement within the industry.

According to findings, only 8.8 percent of South West tech roles are filled by people of colour, and we’re way off the mark when it comes to gender parity. In addition to this,  nationally only 1.7 percent of the total was invested in ethnic minority founders, with a minuscule 0.02 percent invested in Black female founders. Adding to these worrying statistics, just 3 percent of all VC funding was allocated to all-female teams. 

The numbers really do speak for themselves,  and it’s clear much must be done to improve the lack of diversity in the tech industry, both nationally and regionally.

Fortunately, there is action being taken within the South West region, with incubators such as SETsquared setting out to tackle the founder balance and pioneering women within the industry pathing the way for future generations. 

At HdE GROUP, we recently helped manage an industry roundtable discussing the underrepresentation of women in technology and how we can overcome current barriers to take productive steps forward. 

You can watch the full article here

With more conversations and more action taken by business leaders and hiring managers, we really hope to see a major improvement in next year’s Tech Nation report findings around diversity.

A year of promise and prosperity for the UK tech space

Overall, the report painted a really promising picture of the UK tech market, showing incredible resilience and growth in what has been a pretty turbulent year for all. 

As Gerard Grech, founding chief executive of Tech Nation, says: “This year has highlighted the UK tech sector’s enormous resilience and world-beating innovative spirit. In the face of a major global crisis, it has not only survived; in many areas, it has boomed. From EdTech to HealthTech, digital pioneers are rebuilding the British economy and setting new standards worldwide.”