A Government boost for the UK tech sector is recognition of how fundamentally important IT-related services are now for British businesses.
The government’s Future Leaders Fellowships scheme will invest £78 million in 78 researchers to support their work on new scientific and technological discoveries.
And a further £20 million will be allocated to University Enterprise Zones (UEZs) to support small businesses in rapidly growing industries such as Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Through the UEZs, new start-ups and existing small businesses will be given facilities and expertise to help take their ideas from concept to production.
The 20 UEZs are intended to be focal points for collaboration in business-friendly environments and the funding will be allocated to a number of UK cities across the country – ensuring regional diversity so that research and development will help to strengthen local economies.
Receiving the largest grant of £1.5m is the University of Southampton, which will use the money to fund a Future Towns Innovation Hub.
The packages are part of the government’s UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) programme, which has allocated various sums to boost aspects of tech growth in recent months.
Despite uncertainty surrounding Brexit, the UK’s tech sector continues to experience record growth. Research by industry body Tech Nation shows that the industry will have raised $11 billion (£8.8 billion) of investment by the end of 2019, compared to $8.7 billion (£7 billion) the previous year. And recently published Office for National Statistics figures suggest the number of tech-related jobs in the UK has risen by 38 per cent since 2010.
Some commentators argue that the sound basis for investing in UK tech will remain after Brexit. They cite the English language, established regulatory systems, leading academic institutions and an effective capital market system among a number of positive reasons why strong investment should continue.
However, the impact upon businesses that rely on cross-border data flows with EU members is less certain.
Gary Jowett, from Computer & Network Consultants in Brighton, said: “This funding boost for the UK tech sector shows how critically important it is to the entire economy. It will hopefully spawn more innovations and more start-ups to work on ground-breaking new services. It will also help to create more jobs and encourage more people to consider the tech sector for a career.”