Fear of China's and India's growing strengths as outsourcing and development centres was prevalent at the government's Advancing Enterprise conference in London yesterday.
"By 2015 up to five million American and European jobs could have moved offshore, outsourced to countries like India and China as they strive to become the world's second and third largest economies," said chancellor Gordon Brown.
Brown's sentiments were echoed by local business leaders, who stressed the importance of developing international business while keeping core jobs and development money in their home country.
Vodafone Group chief executive officer Arun Sarin said his company's top priority was to roll out third-generation telecoms services, driven by an annual investment of £5bn.
Brown, for his part, said the government is reviewing a long-term plan for science funding to help make the UK a base for research and development. The UK already invests £1.25bn a year in science education and R&D tax credits.
The chancellor also stressed the UK's partnership with the US in driving business growth and jointly stemming China's increasing power.
"Even today China's significance to the global economy is that every year it, on its own, is adding as much output as the whole of the G7 put together," he said, adding that the threat of losing jobs to developing countries that offer the double punch of educated workers and lower costs is particularly strong in the technology sector.
The US technology sector is already well aware of this competitive threat. Companies such as IBM have already moved thousands of jobs overseas.
The UK government is hoping to further align itself with the US and its Europe to keep technology jobs and investment among its traditional trading partners.
But despite calls by leaders such as Brown and Sarin to stimulate local growth through a set path of technology investment and development, Google chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt reminded listeners that the next big boom in technology cannot be predicted.
"For every new programmer we hire, we tell them to spend 20% of their time working on something new and that's where the innovation comes from," Schmidt said. "People ask me what's next. I'm the CEO and I don't know! You'll have to get used to that."
So far Google, which has shaken up the internet search market in recent years with its innovative tools and services has shown little fear of international competition. Earlier this year it started recruiting engineers in India for its first R&D centre outside the US.
"You have a choice - you can get with the programme or fight against the programme," Schmidt said.
Scarlet Pruitt writes for IDG News Service