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Tech bosses optimistic but fears loom over Brexit

Tech Nation 2018 report published Photo:

The Latest Tech Nation report has just been published and it highlights the importance of hi-tech industry to the nation's economy.

The technology sector is expanding 2.6 times faster than the rest of the UK economy and is worth nearly £184bn to UK economy, up from #170bn in 2016.

The findings were published in the fourth annual report - which looks at all the digital and technology hubs across the UK. It was officially launched this morning by Culture secretary and Suffolk MP Matt Hancock.

Among the report's main findings were that London is only behind Silicon Valley and New York City as the most important technology networks in the world. But the report also showed that, while the capital might be leading the way, it's being supported by talent and companies from our region.

It also suggests that entrepreneurs in London and Cambridge are both concerned about the impacts of Brexit. Both the Capital and Cambridge were heavily in favour of remaining in the EU during the referendum.

And it showed that the focus on Artificial intelligence is becoming more important.

Two of the country's flagship tech firms, Darktrace and Deepmind are in the field of AI. Both companies were founded by people with associations with the University of Cambridge.

CAMBRIDGE

The headline figures for Cambridge Credit: Tech Nation 2018

Perhaps unsurprisingly Cambridge once again leads the way. The 'Silicon Fen' cluster of companies has been long established. It grew out of scientific and technological spin-offs from the University of Cambridge together with talent drawn to the city.

Tech giants like Amazon have moved R&D centres there and the report says the city's fortunes could be even brighter if plans to improve the infrastructure, such as the much vaunted underground system, get the go ahead.

And an example of one of the firms which has been able to draw on the talent from the city is Darktrace. It is an AI Cyber defence firm founded by mathematicians from the university. It recently hit a valuation of more than a billion dollars. It was only founded five years ago but now has operations all over the world.

IPSWICH

Ipswich's headline figures Credit: Tech Nation 2018

Ipswich also continues to be a strong performer. It saw 45 new firms founded in the town last year.

Much of this growth has come from the continued development of Adastral Park in Martlesham. The site will also be home to a joint project between BT and Facebook on developing "next generation telecoms technology."

Like Cambridge, the Suffolk town is also benefitting from its closeness to a University. The University of Suffolk, which officially launched in August of 2016. The institution started a centre to support women in business and is also working nationally to help new initiatives to support tech growth.

Although the report did suggest that future growth is hindered by lack of infrastructure and transport links.

NORWICH

Norwich's headline figures Credit: Tech Nation 2018

The industry in Norwich also cited poor infrastructure, transport links and access to talent as barriers t growth, but there were plenty of positives too.

Like Ipswich and Cambridge, the sector in Norwich benefits from its closeness to the University of East Anglia and the Norwich University of the Arts. And there's a thriving educational programme for youngsters supplied by organisations like Step into Tech.

Overall most of the tech sector is optimistic about its economic future, with expectations that the number of digital tech businesses will rise over the next 12 months.

You can read and download the Tech Nation 2018 report here.