Tech companies in Bristol raised $305m – more than £254m – from investors in the first seven months of this year alone, according to recent research.
The figures mark a significant increase from the $290m secured for the whole of 2018 and once again confirm the city’s position as one of the UK’s leading tech hubs, with only Manchester and London securing more funding during the start of 2019.
Tech Nation and Dealroom.co for the Digital Economy Council published their report to coincide with one of the first Bright Tech Future roundtable discussions, held in Bristol, in which a cohort industry insiders, investors and university representatives discuss how to further strengthen the sector in the South West.
The city’s tech businesses achieved a combined turnover of £7.9bn last year and employed almost 25,000 people, according to the latest figures, which also reveal record foreign investment in the country’s tech sector.
Nigel Toon, CEO of Graphcore, co-hosted the roundtable discussion in Bristol. His company is an artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning tech company that raised $200m from venture capital investors at the end of 2018, thus securing the industry title of a unicorn.
“As one of the city’s tech unicorns, we’re proof of its thriving digital sector, and the capabilities of businesses in the area,” he said.
“We’re incredibly proud of the contribution Bristol makes to the success of the UK tech industry, and this event provides a fantastic opportunity to consider what the future of the sector may look like.”
Ovo Energy is the city’s other unicorn – a private tech business with a valuation of more than a $1bn – having landed a $200m investment from Mitsubishiu, while Ultrahaptics is also on its way, having sold a 20 per cent stake to Mayfair Equity Partners last month.
Tech Nation is working with the Digital Economy Council and the Department of Digital, Media, Culture and Sport to recognise the critical role of non-executive workers in the tech industry.
As part of this, the organisation has launched the Bright Tech Future awards, aimed at people who are not founders or CEOs.
Commenting on the growing industry, Dr Zara Nanu, CEO of Gapsquare, said: “It’s great to see Bristol take a leading role in AI development as the city has strong skills in this area.
“Not only do I see strong operational and engineering skills in growing tech companies, but also a commitment to strong ethics and principles. The networks of developers, experts and other stakeholders that are here in Bristol and the West Country are passionate about making these technologies of the future fairer.”
George Windsor, head of insights at Tech Nation added: “In recent years, Bristol has asserted itself as one of the UK’s leading tech hubs.
“The Tech Nation reports of 2019 and 2018 highlighted its role as one of the most productive tech clusters in the UK, as well as revealing how it has created thousands of jobs in the area.”
To find out more about the awards and nominate people, visit: www.technation.io/bright-tech-future-hall-of-fame.