Why Global Businesses are Choosing the UK Silicon Valley
The success of the UK tech sector is underpinned by the global brands it’s comprised of. As the market experiences unprecedented growth and inward investment, we can see why global businesses are choosing the UK Silicon Valley.
As technology advances, businesses have more opportunity to be discerning in where they’re based. UK businesses that were previously tied to London can now look to regional cores including Birmingham or emerging markets such as the UK’s Silicon Valley or London Commuter Belt.
With a history rooted in the UK technology sector, the M4 corridor – widely known as the UK’s Silicon Valley – is a natural fit for digital businesses that want to relocate. Home to global brands including Microsoft, IBM, Huawei and Oracle, it’s a region with strong commercial foundations and the infrastructure to match.
Thanks to its positioning within the London Commuter Belt, the UK’s Silicon Valley benefits from incredible accessibility via high-quality transport links while inward investment ensures world-class connectivity.
With tech hubs such as Bracknell just under an hour away from the capital, these destinations can provide opportunities for local professionals as well as commuters from London. For renters that want a more affordable alternative to the capital, towns such as Bracknell and Reading are more appealing when compared to the expensive London market.
It’s this ability to serve wider demand that makes the Thames Valley such a prospect for high-tech business. With a broad range of customers and partners accessible from the Thames Valley, it’s an ideal location for businesses that want UK headquarters with room to grow.
Affordability is also huge for many businesses. While the average price per sq.ft in London can reach over £1,000 for central postcodes, towns such as Bracknell can be as low as £350 – £400 per sq.ft. This reduces overheads, opening up more money for use elsewhere.
The opportunities afforded by hosting such a variety of top businesses means the Thames Valley has built an ambitious and dedicated workforce. Nearly 80% of the entire region is in active employment – outstripping the national average – and over half of that number (55%) occupy senior positions including managerial and directorial roles.
It’s this performance that has made the UK’s Silicon Valley a magnet for young professionals that want to work in ‘one of the most promising technological sectors in Europe’. This level of demand also means that the region can capitalise through inward investment, creating new residential and commercial space to accommodate this rising population.
Bracknell is set to experience one of the fastest-growing population rises in the UK with a 15% increase forecasted by 2036, closely followed by destinations such as Reading which is forecasting around 8%. As these locations grow, the local infrastructure will also be improved, creating new transport links and network connectivity.
Investment levels in the UK have also increased over the years. With UK investment 1.5 times higher than Germany and 2.6 times higher than France at the start of 2019, an incredible amount of money is being invested into businesses throughout the UK – especially those in the South East and along the M4 corridor.
According to Gerard Grech, the CEO of Tech Nation, the UK continues to overperform in the technology sector: “The UK continues to exceed all predictions when it comes to tech growth… the UK is a critical hub when it comes to global technology developments, with scale-up tech investment being the highest in Europe.”
Over the last 20 years, Reading property has grown by 206% while Bracknell has increased by 221%. These two towns are cornerstones of the UK’s Silicon Valley and classic examples of how a booming tech sector has influenced the property sector. With high-quality developments, improved infrastructure and increased demand, the towns and cities within the area are forecasting unprecedented growth heading into 2020 and beyond – with the South East set to be the fastest-growing region in the country at 14.2% over the next five years.
Unlocking the Potential of the UK’s Silicon Valley
Looking forward, the UK’s Silicon Valley has a huge amount of untapped potential. Around 1.7 million positions were advertised across the UK’s 12 biggest tech hubs in 2018, offering huge potential for global brands that want to take advantage.
Gerard Grech believes that as sectors merge, the need for tech-based skills is at a ‘generational high-point’ which highlights the need for these skills to evolve and grow over time. The quicker that countries, regions and businesses can adapt to new ‘network-based economies’, the more prepared they will be to take advantage.
Building on the demand for ‘co-working’ spaces and smart functionality in offices is also vital – encouraging flexible, agile start-ups and more progressive digital businesses. While this attracts more professional demand, it also shows confidence in the impact that the tech sector can have and address the issue of undersupply.
Particularly prevalent in the residential sector, a chronic undersupply of property is plaguing the entire UK market and supply is struggling to meet demand. While a competitive market is good for investors, it’s important to have quality stock that can stand the test of time. Inwards investment that aims to build a high-standard of residential and commercial property will help mitigate the issues that come with a lack of stock.
For both global businesses and investors, these are all key signposts of success. As the region continues to build on the tech foundations that delivered success, and the growth of the tech sector accelerates, it’s expected we’ll see that more global businesses are choosing the UK Silicon Valley as their new home.
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