The British vote to leave the EU has had a major impact on the UK tech sector, and with just a few months to go until our official departure, old stalwarts and new start-ups alike are gearing up for a future away from the 27 member states. The country’s new-found freedom brings with it the possibility to follow in the footsteps of some of the world’s leading tech hubs, but as one hands gives the other must take away.
Since the referendum, the EU has begun tightening its purse strings when considering UK start-ups – in 2017, the European Investment Fund supplied £53 million of financial support to new tech businesses, a 91 per cent decrease from the £615 million donated the previous year. On the contrary, the political climate has led to an increase in venture capitalist funding within the tech sector, with £3 billion provided last year.
Although Berlin is one of the hottest tech hubs in the world, the majority of those who make up the rest of the top 10 exist outside of Europe. Silicon Valley is the obvious example, with Beijing, Seoul and Tokyo all close behind. The UK benefits from an already elevated position among the world’s top tech centres, and with the following three cities benefiting from ever-growing start-up scenes, the future can continue to be bright if we follow their lead.
You may be fed up of hearing about Norway by now, with constant comparisons between the Scandinavian country and a post-Brexit UK being drawn. But, as the fastest growing capital city on the continent, Oslo’s tech start-up scene is picking up after years of being left behind by close neighbours Copenhagen and Stockholm. Benefitting from being one of the wealthiest nations in the world, Norway’s focus has changed from oil to innovation and has seen £147 million invested in the first half of this year, putting it on track to smash it’s 2016 record of £153 million in tech funding.
Tel Aviv, Israel
Dubbed as Silicon Wadi (wadi being a Hebrew word for valley), Tel Aviv’s place among the world’s tech elite is indisputable. While start-ups in the city are thriving, it is also home to some of the industry’s biggest names – IBM, Motorola, Intel and Microsoft were the first four tech companies to set up in Israel. One in 10 of the city’s population work within the tech sector, with cybersecurity a major focus. In fact, 15 per cent of the world’s venture capital that is invested in cybersecurity goes to Israeli businesses.
Being the only city in the world to span two continents, Istanbul offers companies a gateway into both the European and Asian markets which is proving a huge selling point in the tech industry. More than 70 per cent of the country’s population have access to the internet, while just one in 10 Istanbulites do not possess mobile phone, making local penetration relatively straight forward. Despite Turkey’s leader holding a particularly strong nationalist stance, 43 per cent of the nation’s start-up investment came from foreign sources in the first quarter of 2018, proving the EU is not the be all and end all of international funding.