Cambridge shines brightly in Tech Nation report

Cambridge is on course for another bumper year of tech investment, having seen $487m of venture capital invested in digital tech companies in 2018.

A Bright Tech Future report heading_ Tech Nation
  • VC investment in all tech companies reached $487m in 2018 and is on course to beat that in 2019
  • Half of Cambridge’s working population is employed in digital tech
  • The area is home to six digital tech unicorns, each worth more than $1bn
  • The Bright Tech Future Tour is a series of national events to consider the talent and skills challenges facing the tech sector, around the country
  • Tech Nation is working with the Department of Digital, Media, Culture and Sport’s Digital Economy Council to launch the Bright Tech Future awards

Last week the latest Cambridge unicorn was created when CMR Surgical, a medical robotics company, raised $240m to further its work of building the next generation of ‘‘robotic surgeons’. Investments in 2018 included a $50bn fundraising at cyber security business Darktrace, which pushed the company to a valuation of more than $1bn. Cambridge’s other digital tech unicorns are semiconductor company, CSR; software and semiconductor firm, Arm; biotechnology company Abcam; and software business Autonomy.

According to Tech Nation data, Cambridge saw 168 tech business births in 2017, ensuring that the city has a healthy crop of emerging businesses. The city also has seven digital tech companies that are on track to become digital tech unicorns, with valuations of between $250m and $1bn.

The presence of a large number of fast-growing companies has helped Cambridge to cement its position as one of the UK’s leading tech hubs, with a digital tech turnover of £2.4bn.

According to Tech Nation’s Bright Tech Future Jobs and Skills report, half of Cambridge’s working population - 52,196 people - are already employed within its digital tech sector, but there were still 164,000 available roles in 2018, indicating that demand for local tech talent is showing no signs of slowing.

The figures on Cambridge’s tech sector are published as Tech Nation, the UK network for ambitious tech entrepreneurs, and the Digital Economy Council visit the city today (24 September) as part of a national series of roundtable discussions. The talent and skills challenges facing the tech sector in Cambridge and the East of England will be considered at this event by local companies, investors, university representatives and other ecosystem participants.

The Bright Tech Future discussion will be hosted at Amazon’s Cambridge offices by Saul Klein, co-founder of LocalGlobe, Seedcamp and Lovefilm. Expert witnesses will include Amazon Directors, David Hardcastle and Lauren Kisser, as well as Sherry Coutu, Executive Chair of the Scale-up Institute, who will all provide insight into the city’s tech opportunities.

The aim of the roundtable, one of a tour of eight cities across the UK, is to meet with regional tech leaders to discuss the opportunities in the area’s tech ecosystem.

Digital Secretary, Nicky Morgan, said: “Cambridge has truly established itself as a leading tech hub in the UK. Home to six billion-dollar 'unicorn' companies, the region continues to attract strong tech investment.

“I’m thrilled that the Bright Tech Futures tour is bringing together so many of the region’s experts to discuss how we can help further strengthen the UK’s reputation as a leading player in the global technology sector.

"I would also urge bosses to nominate their staff for the inaugural Tech Nation Bright Tech Future Awards."

George Windsor, Head of Insights at Tech Nation said: “Cambridge has reinforced its position as one of the UK’s leading tech hubs. The Tech Nation reports of 2019 and 2018 highlight how it consistently attracts both investment and talent which enable it to produce some of the UK’s most successful tech businesses, including six $1bn digital tech unicorns.”

Looking for something specific?