Record London tech investments show scale of UK divide


London • Technology start-ups in London attracted a record £2.56 billion (RM13.54 billion) of venture capital (VC) investment in 2019 through May 31, according to data published by London & Partners Ltd, the city’s official lobbying arm.

The figures also illustrate the dominance of the capital’s appeal: Despite cities like Cambridge, Bristol and Edinburgh all being home to top scientific universities and notable tech firms, London captured four-fifths of Britain’s total £3.17 billion of technology VC funding for the year so far.

The investment statistics were compiled by the data firm Pitchbook, and were scheduled to be published in full yesterday by London & Partners on the same morning Prime Minister Theresa May was expected to announce £153 million of new funding for UK tech companies, with a particular focus on supporting businesses working in the field of quantum computing.

“If we are going to maintain our position as a global leader, our challenge is how we develop British tech and make it even better,” May is expected to say at an event in London yesterday.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan suggested a more diverse industry might help. “As our city’s tech ecosystem continues to grow, it’s important that we encourage greater inclusivity and diversity across the tech sector,” he said in an emailed statement on Sunday.

The optimism of May and Khan, supported by the record figures published to coincide with the start of London Tech Week, runs counter to concerns that uncertainty around Britain’s exit from the European Union will damage the UK’s competitiveness as a technology hub.

But it does little to address mounting concerns around the economic impact of the north-south divide in Britain.

In December, an analysis by the think tank Institute for Public Policy Research North showed that in the past decade, total public spending rose in the south of England by £3.2 billion in real terms, but fell in the north by £6.3 billion in the same period.