PROMOTED Britain was the cradle of the industrial revolution. The country pioneered the use of new materials, new energy sources and new machines that transformed global economies. As the world enters the fourth industrial revolution, Britain’s engineering and technological ingenuity is once more transforming the world: from artificial intelligence to cybersecurity, robotic process automation to low-earth orbit satellites, Britain is great for technology.
Britain’s technology industry is worth over £184 billion; growing two times faster than the rest of the economy over the past two years as companies and governments around the world boost their trade with Britain’s cutting-edge technology enterprises. The reason is simple: in today’s hyper-competitive technological landscape, nobody can afford to miss out on the British technology that is quietly underpinning digital disruption around the globe.
“The government has made tech a core component of our modern industrial strategy”
As Prime Minister Theresa May puts it: “I am proud of the strengths of the UK tech sector and ambitious for what it can achieve in the future. The government has made tech a core component of our modern industrial strategy, and we will continue to invest in the best innovations and ideas, in the brightest talent, and in revolutionary digital infrastructure.”
Credit: “Forging our future: Industrial Strategy – the story so far”
Industrial Strategy at a glance
The Prime Minister adds: “Over the last year, the performance of our digital tech sector has been world-leading, with British firms attracting more capital than any other European country. Our great strength in technology and innovation, built on the UK’s excellence in R&D and creative thinking, is demonstrated by our breadth of tech activity”.
“A new business opens every 75 seconds in Britain. Many will be the tech pioneers of the future. Our trading partners know early knowledge is future success”
With £45 billion already committed across the UK through the Industrial Strategy, 78,000 smaller UK businesses boosted by the British Business Bank, and a record £7 billion increase in public spending on R&D, Britain is booming and its technology sector open for business.
Innovation requires infrastructure of course: and that’s why Britain is funding the fastest growing infrastructure investment of the seven largest advanced economies in the world.
That has helped underpin the founding of 1,100 businesses every day in Britain — 1 every 75 seconds. Britain’s trading partners know that these include the technology leaders of tomorrow. The encryption hardware of Cambridge-founded nCipher Security, for example, is now used by 50 percent of the FTSE 100’s largest twenty companies.
From AI to Cryptography, Satellites to Medical Technology: Trade is Booming
From Artificial Intelligence pioneers like DeepMind, to world-leading cybersecurity unicorn Darktraces; a world-class industrial and technological base in low-earth orbit satellite technology, via Britain’s truly world-leading cryptography providers who tap a rich legacy of securing communications around the world, British technology continues to excite.
British technologies sit at the heart of the world’s most popular smartphone, the iPhone, for example. Companies like Cardiff’s IQE that provide Apple with its power management solutions are also world leaders in compound semiconductors, which are “atomically engineered” from several elements and facilitate electron movement much faster than silicon, enabling processing speeds over a 100 times faster than traditional semiconductors.
With over 338,000 programmers and software development professionals in employment in the United Kingdom and the figure continuing to grow rapidly, British software exports are as highly sought after as the country’s manufactured electronics. British-developed micro-VM software developed by Bromium is now used in world-leading laptops for examples, based on intellectual technology developed by British computer scientist Ian Pratt.
British technology trade is underpinned by a highly supportive regulatory regime and funding offering for technology companies growing in the country. Amid a global climate in which barriers are being raised to trade, Britain’s history as an open trading nation underpins our regulatory and fiscal environment: from partnerships to acquisitions, British regulators facilitate where others throw up blockades to trade.
DeepMind is a case in point: the neural network pioneer made waves when its AlphaGo program beat world champion Go player, in a five-game match in 2016. Now owned by Google, it has partnered with Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) to showcase how medical data can be put to use to optimise treatment and save lives.
Forward thinking regulators in the financial services sector – who have led in the development of regulatory sandboxes for technologies to be trialled in – meanwhile mean Britain has developed technologies across the operating stack for retail banks that are being used as examples of best practice for Open Banking around the world. Cloud-native unicorns like Monzo built their own stacks to personalise customer services and power big data analytics in a way our trading partners are following closely.
London’s long-standing leadership and depth of liquidity in financial markets also underpin British trade – and many of the country’s partners are making use of technology built in London to future-proof their operations amid a complex global financial climate.
These include world-class payments technologies, which currently attract a wide range of innovators, the technology underpinning platforms, particularly peer-to-peer lending, trading, personal wealth management and aggregators and software for risk management, payments, asset management, capital markets, insurance and accounting.
Why Britain is Great for Technology
With a current Corporation Tax rate of 19% – reducing to 17% by 2020, the UK has the lowest headline business tax rate in the G20, while other generous incentives for companies developing fast-growing, innovative services and products. The Patent Box, for example, offers a 10% corporation tax on profits from inventions patented in the UK.
As Secretary of State for International Trade, Dr Liam Fox, puts it: “The United Kingdom is one of the world’s largest and most successful economies. We are at record levels of employment while our legal system holds a reputation that is second to none. Home to some of the world’s finest universities, our research and development capabilities sit at the forefront of global innovation, and our workforce is highly skilled.
“We not only boast world-class, innovative companies, but also a highly capable export support market, offering high-quality business and export support to UK businesses.”