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The future of UK technology

The UK’s tech businesses are confident of their growth prospects for the year ahead despite the Government’s “awful” handling of Brexit, according to Studio Graphene’s (SG) Q1 2019 UK Tech Tracker Survey.

Among the 100 C-level personnel within early stage, UK-based technology companies that were surveyed, 79% say they either ‘very confident’ (39%) or ‘confident’ (40%) they will increase their turnover over the coming 12 months.

Looking to the year ahead, 91% of the tech firms quizzed said they plan to hire more staff, 67% intend to expand into new overseas territories, and 66% will seek investment.

This research is further supported by a survey from Velocity Global (VG) on UK technology firms (500 business of varying sizes), which discovered that some 90% are looking to expand their operations into new countries. Just under half (43%) of the companies surveyed operate in the UK only, but this is expected to fall to just 13% by the end of 2019.

In terms of the challenges companies foresee over the coming 12 months, hiring the right talent was the most commonly cited issue. SG says that 60% predict this will be an obstacle to their future growth.

VG's findings further confirm this concern, with 42% of businesses saying their expansion plans are being driven by a desire to recruit the best global tech talent. Europe (37%) and Asia (36%) are seen as the most promising destinations to bring in new skills, according to the report.

“We know that the UK is among the best places in the world to set up a tech business but there is no escaping the issue of skills shortages," states Ben Wright, CEO of Velocity Global. "It appears businesses are thinking creatively, seeking to combine growth in new markets with the opportunity to hire their brightest talent."

Turning to Brexit, SG found that just over half (53%) of early stage businesses in the country’s digital sectors believe Brexit will have a negative impact on their growth opportunities in the months ahead. This compares to just 12% who feel it will have a positive effect. While VG reports that just over half of the businesses in their survey are planning to expand overseas to grow their customer base, with 43% saying their moves into new markets are being driven by the economic uncertainty surrounding Brexit.

Moreover, SG's research showed that 88% of UK tech startups feel the Government’s handling of Brexit has been ‘awful’ (65%) or ‘poor’ (23%).

Ritam Gandhi, Founder and Director of Studio Graphene, commented: “It is vital both the Government and private sector work together to ensure these obstacles are addressed and, ultimately, that Britain’s exciting early stage businesses get the support they need.”

Author
Bethan Grylls

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