December 21, 2018updated 26 Dec 2018 10:49am

With Brexit looming, UK remains Europe’s leading market for tech investment

By Priya Kantaria

The United Kingdom’s tech scene leads in Europe with $8bn of venture capital investment, and IPOs and acquisitions of $40bn during 2018.

With the UK topping Tech Nation’s European league tables for venture capital investment in 2018, the network for tech entrepreneurs sees a unique opportunity in Brexit to reform our immigration system to continue to attract talent.

The digital secretary attributes the UK’s success in tech to the country’s attitude toward business and talent, as well as access to capital.

The UK is helping Europe close in on the US with successful tech ventures

Success in a country’s tech sector is measured by the rate of successful exits of venture capital-backed companies, among other factors.

Europe is closing the gap between it and the United States in terms of exits of venture-backed companies.

The US achieved $136bn of deals and IPOs in 2018, while European sales and IPOs added up to $107bn.

The three biggest exits in Europe were of companies based in the UK: Farfetch, Sky Betting & Gaming and Zoopla.

The UK has been the biggest source of successful company exits in Europe with sales and IPOs worth $119bn since 2013.

Sweden has achieved $55bn in sales and IPOs over the last five years and Germany has achieved $44bn.

In 2018, Sweden achieved sales and exits of $34bn, nearing the UK’s achievement, but this was mainly due to the Swedish floatation of Spotify for $29bn.

In London, Peer-to-peer lending marketplace Funding Circle was floated in 2018, and tech sales included property portal Zoopla which sold for $3bn to US venture capital group Silver Lake.

“Many of our most promising businesses have been built by immigrants”

Tech Nation chief executive Gerard Grech said: “Brexit underlines the need for us to succeed in what is a global industry and gives us a unique opportunity to reform our immigration system for the better.

“We need to maintain and extend our position as a global tech hub, attracting the best and brightest from the whole world and not just the EU.

“Many of our most promising businesses have been built by immigrants, such as TransferWise.”

UK Digital Secretary Jeremy Wright said: “These brilliant statistics round off another bumper year of investment in our digital economy and show the UK is Europe’s undisputed tech hub.

“The success is thanks to our unique combination of talent, location and language, alongside our business-friendly environment, unrivalled access to capital and world-leading universities.

“We are determined to make the UK the best place to start and grow a business, and through our Digital and Industrial Strategies we want to see the power of technology change people’s lives for the better.”

Tech Nation: 75% higher productivity in the UK tech scene

Tech Nation figures showed that UK firms attracted 1.8 times more venture capital investment than France and 1.6 times more than Germany in 2018.

Germany raised $4.6bn, France $4.4bn and Israel $3.4bn, compared to UK tech attracting $7.9bn.

Its numbers confirm that the UK’s tech sector is making a strong contribution to the economy, with a 75% higher productivity in the UK tech scene compared to the whole of the UK economy and people working in jobs using digital skills on average paid £10,000 more than non-digital roles.