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Global business leaders hail UK tech sector’s innovation potential

KPMG report reveals global confidence in UK tech sector’s ability to create innovative products and services that are keenly adopted across the world

Confidence in the UK’s ability to create technological breakthroughs appears to be rising across the globe, according to KPMG’s latest annual worldwide innovation report.

The document features responses from 841 business executives around the world, who were asked to rank the countries whose technology markets show the greatest potential for creating innovative technologies.

Their responses suggest that confidence in the UK’s ability to innovate and create technological breakthroughs is growing overseas, with the country rising up the rankings from seventh place in 2016 to fourth in this year’s report.

The UK was selected by 10% of respondents as a potential source of technology breakthroughs in 2017, compared with just 4% the previous year.

“Government initiatives such as Innovate UK, are focused on driving and accelerating innovation by investing in small high-growth companies in key market sectors and providing access to cutting-edge technologies,” said KPMG’s The changing landscape of disruptive technologies report.

However, the US, China and India all ranked higher than the UK, which was described as having a “progressive” technology scene, based on its track record of creating products that are keenly adopted by both emerging and more developed countries.

Tudor Aw, head of technology sector at KPMG UK, said the feedback the UK tech sector received in the report was mirrored by the levels of investment it had attracted over the past year.

“The research shows the UK’s technology sector drew more investment than that of any other European country in 2016 and that London is seen as a major hub for big data, fintech and a variety of digital technologies,” said Aw.

“Despite the uncertainty presented by Brexit and other economic factors, the UK and London have not lost their shine when it comes to its technology pedigree.”

Read more about the UK tech market

  • The technology sector is one of the key drivers behind the UK economy’s 0.5% growth in the months following Brexit.
  • The long-term success of the government’s proposed industrial strategy, and its plans for a prosperous post-Brexit Britain, hinges on its ability to address the skills gap in science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem).

The report also saw London ranked fifth in a list of major cities capable of rivalling the US’s Silicon Valley in years to come as a major source of technology innovation. Shanghai topped this part of the poll, followed by New York, Tokyo and Beijing.

Although the UK technology sector’s performance was largely celebrated in the report, the document also highlighted the growing competitive pressure it will face as China and India continue to emerge as major tech hubs.

“China continues to make rapid gains as it moves from manufacturing to an innovation powerhouse led by its large mobile and digitally advanced consumer and enterprise base,” the report said.

“India placed third globally for the second year in a row. India is home to nine startups valued at more than $1bn. More and more startups are targeting the domestic Indian market as businesses shift from serving global markets with outsourcing.”

In the light of these trends, the UK could not afford to rest on its laurels when capitalising on its innovation potential, said Aw.

“Technology underpins the competitiveness and development of almost every sector,” he said. “It is a key battleground for most economies and the UK must ensure it is a leader in this field. 

“The government’s £2bn R&D fund for emerging tech, such as artificial intelligence and robotics, is therefore hugely encouraging and will make a real difference to the UK being seen as a tech destination of choice for scientists, entrepreneurs, investors and tech companies.”

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