Almost three quarters of the UK’s digital businesses can now be found outside London, according to a report out today, which indicates that the UK digital economy extends well beyond Tech City in East London.  

The Tech Nation report, the first comprehensive survey of the UK’s digital economy, suggests there are over 47,000 digital technology companies across the UK, with 74 percent of those outside the capital.

Old Street's "Silicon Roundabout" has become the beacon of the UK tech industry ©Flickr/Katchooo

The report, curated by government quango Tech City UK, found that half to the UK's tech firms have been incorporated since the recession.

It also showed that the tech scenes in Manchester, Belfast and Sheffield wer supporting high value companies that rivalled the financial turnover than than their London counterparts. Early government efforts to support tech focussed on promoting the East London startup scene through the Tech City UK organisation has since had its remit extended to the rest of the UK

Tech is the country’s fastest-growing occupation category, with 1.46 million people working in the digital economy across the UK, roughly 7.5 percent of the total UK workforce.

London is by far the largest digital employer with 251,590 people working for technology companies in the capital. Britsol and Bath was named as the largest digital cluster outside London, where 61,653 people work in digital businesses, followed by Manchester, which has 56,145 technology workers.

Bristol and Bath

The Bristol and Bath region has seen a 65 percent increase in new digital companies incorporated between 2010 and 2013. Local companies cite fewer major barriers to growth in Bristol and Bath than other UK regions with the key strengths of the cluster being its social networks, access to talent and property, according to Invest Bristol & Bath, which aims to promote the region's tech sector. 

Recently the region has secured major inward investment successes by big names in the tech world such as Somo, JUST EAT and Chinese telecoms giant Huawei.

David Maher Roberts, digital sector specialist at Invest Bristol & Bath, said: “This report is further confirmation of what we already know; that the Bristol and Bath region is not just a major player in the UK’s digital economy, but across the globe. Our strengths in digital industries are partly due to our rich heritage in aerospace, advanced engineering, high-tech and creative industries.”

The report reveals that the top three digital sectors in Bristol and Bath are data management and analytics, software development and Edtech, with core capabilities including network infrastructure and protocols, systems design and integration, and UI and UX Design.

Gerard Grech, chief executive of Government-backed TechCityUK, said:"I believe our findings will help inform policy-makers, investors and the wider business community about the sheer breadth and depth of the UK’s digital prowess. This is the first time that the UK’s digital clusters have been so thoroughly analysed, revealing their strengths and importance to the digital economy. It shines a powerful spotlight on how far we’ve come in the digital tech sector, and where we are heading.”

Chancellor George Osborne said: "What’s so exciting about today’s Tech Nation report is that it shows how we’re seeing the growth of tech businesses right across the country. As part of our plan for a truly national recovery we will do everything we can to support this growth and back the different tech clusters that are emerging around Britain."

The research is available as an online interactive guide that allows users to explore the UK tech landscape by industry, capability, location or business name.

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