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July 9, 2015

5 biggest investments in the UK digital economy

Read which tech giants have poured funding into the UK's burgeoning tech sector.

By Alexander Sword

As George Osborne faces criticism from the technology sector for a lack of focus on enhancing the digital economy in his ‘Summer Budget’, and Cisco launches a huge investment in the UK’s tech sector, CBR rounds up the biggest international investments in the UK economy.

1. Huawei

Huawei tops the list in terms of total investment and to some extent, bullishness; its investment of £1.3 billion in the UK economy came in 2012, with the economy in its third consecutive year of recession as George Osborne pushed ahead with cuts to government spending. Ren Zhengfei announced the plan at a meeting with David Cameron.

The funds are being spent over five years in total directed towards areas such as mobile broadband over five years, creating up to 700 new jobs. Huawei also announced partnerships with EE, TalkTalk and Three UK and began 5G research with the University of Surrey.

2. Cisco

Outgoing CEO John Chambers and incoming Chuck Robbins met with Prime Minister David Cameron and Business Secretary Sajid Javid on 9 July, with Cisco announcing a $1 billion (£650 million) investment into the UK. The Cisco execs came fresh from a trip to France where similar discussions took place with President Hollande.

This includes venture capital for Internet of Everything start-ups and cybersecurity solutions, funding for education initiatives with the expansion of the Cisco Networking Academy programme and investment in new innovation centres.

Chambers recently spoke to CBR about his time at the firm and predictions for the future; you can read the full interview here.

3. IBM

Dating back to June 2015, IBM partnered with the government for a big initiative to boost Big Data research by expanding facilities at the Hartree Centre at Daresbury in the next five years. The project follows the government’s £113 million commitment in the Autumn Statement.

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IBM is adding a not-inconsiderable £200 million to the project, supplying access to cognitive computing platform Watson and 24 IBM researchers. It will also work to jointly commercialise the intellectual property assets produced in partnership with the Science and Technology Facilities Council which runs Hartree.

4. Pivotal

The spin-off from EMC and VMware launched its £100 million investment into London’s Tech City back in December 2013. Retaining its main headquarters in the US, its EMEA headquarters opened in Old Street with 75 staff in January 2014.

The £100 million funding will be spent over ten years in total, supporting recruitment and training of tech talent. It will also be used to boost Pivotal’s customer base in EMEA. Pivotal also made plans to work with the local community and industry groups.

5. Dell

Compared to some of the other headline figures, Dell’s investment seems a tad paltry, but its £10 million Innovator’s Credit fund, launched in late 2013, is nothing to be sniffed at. The Credit Fund is a hyper-growth fund, aiming to provide entrepreneurs with finance to get technology solutions into the hands of start-ups in the early stages of development.

The launch of the fund came during Global Entrepreneur Week, alongside the launch of a UK Centre for Entrepreneurs, which provided the opportunity for two UK businesses to become ‘Start-ups in Residence’.

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