With all the doom-mongering and chilly enterprise gloom over Brexit, there are some often over-looked bright spots that suggest technology industries will power on, whatever the politicians manage to hammer out in terms of a deal. Chief among them is continued investment from abroad into startups and growing businesses.
2017’s Record Investment
From companies at the heart of London’s Silicon Roundabout to growing south coast creative hubs in Brighton and Bournemouth and startups emerging from Oxford and Cambridge technology incubators, the lure of British know-how and imagination and US companies being able to conduct dealings in the same language continues to attract investment.
2017 will represent a banner year for the UK, with over $1 billion invested direct from Silicon Valley angels and investors. This might sound small change compared to the many billions of dollars invested in Silicon Valley-native businesses each month, but it beats the likes of France and Germany, proving that, when it comes to technology, Britain is still a European leader, with the gap continuing to grow.
Finance is King for Investors
As a global market centre for FinTech development, the banking industry has seen at least $500 million invested, as new companies spring up to service the sector, and new concepts attract the attention of investors around the world. The UK government estimates that 60,000 jobs and $9 billion of revenue will be supported by the sector alone.
Blockchain solutions that can revolutionise business processes or financial and legal transactions are a key area of interest for investors. App-based bank accounts, peer to peer lending, foreign exchange instruments and new ways to streamline or analyse insurance deals are also high on the agenda for many investors.
The Search for the Next Big Thing
Alongside the intense interest in banking, other areas that see rising investment include artificial intelligence, chatbots and customer service agents. The way people interact with businesses and organisations will change dramatically in the near future and startups that can provide the most meaningful interactions will be big winners.
Medical technology and life sciences are another investment area, with everything from robotic surgeons and electronic consulting to ways to simplify and make health services more efficient being placed high on investor’s agenda. With the global healthcare provider industry continuing to be put under massive strain from growing numbers of patients, successful startups could give rise to the next unicorn.
Looking Beyond Brexit and Silicon Valley
Silicon Valley investment in the UK has grown sharply as the whole Valley-culture and ethos has come under political scrutiny in the states. Investors are looking elsewhere to try and tame the excesses of that culture, and to widen their investment out of the earthquake-prone region.
There have also been growing numbers of Brits moving to Silicon Valley, taking their contacts and connections with them, helping to builder closer ties between the two areas.
While UK hubs will never have the same level of history, financial gravity or cool factor as Silicon Valley, they help promote the best of British for space, science, medicine and IT services, something that will continue long after Brexit is a footnote in history. Maintaining investment from Silicon Valley will be key to continuing that growth and ensuring the partnership continues to grow, whatever politicians decide.
Whatever Brexit eventually delivers, huge amounts of investment will continue to light up businesses that can solve problems, especially those created by any post-EU challenges. Some investment deals are being signed with strings-attached options that depend on certain aspects or type of Brexit delivery. But, the majority continue to highlight that Britain is a huge force for innovation, one that will continue to attract investors, whatever the end result.