Newbury is fast becoming the UK's Silicon Valley, as tech workers flood to the town

Berkshire market town leads Britain's tech boom, with the highest 'digital density' of any town or city

Rich Jenkins
Friday 18 May 2018 01:04 BST
The price of bitcoin has risen by almost 20 per cent over the last week, however experts say even bigger gains should be expected.
The price of bitcoin has risen by almost 20 per cent over the last week, however experts say even bigger gains should be expected.

UK tech workers are flocking to a historic market town – following a huge growth in the technology sector there.

Newbury, in Berkshire, is home to Vodafone’s headquarters and has a higher "digital density" than anywhere else in the UK, as companies seek to expand beyond London.

It topped the list ahead of Reading, Basingstoke and Burnley, with smaller towns building up skilled workforces to nurture new startups and tech companies.

A new tech report described the "productivity power path" travelling along the M4 corridor and spreading to Southampton and Portsmouth.

Gerard Grech, chief executive and co-founder of Tech Nation, which compiled the 2018 report said: “This is the first major milestone of Tech Nation, the organisation now working across the country to build networks that support ambitious entrepreneurs and shine a light on the achievements of our tech sector.

London is the world’s second most connected hub after Silicon Valley. We need to make the most of that, as our new relationship with the EU will undoubtedly force us to be even more adaptive, innovative and ambitious.”

As well as the tech towns, eight cities also showed above-average employment in the technology field, with Portsmouth topping the list. It was followed by Bristol, Cambridge, Southampton and Oxford rounding out the top five.

The Tech Nation report shows the UK’s digital tech sector is accelerating faster than the rest of the economy.

In fact, the sector’s growth from a £170bn industry in 2016 to £184bn in the most recent report shows that it’s expanding two-and-a-half times faster than the rest of the UK’s economy.

It also revealed the digital tech sector’s workforce is both older, and more ethnically diverse, than the average UK workplace.

It showed 72 per cent of UK digital tech workers are over 35, challenging the stereotype that jobs in the sector are usually taken by millennials.

And 15 per cent are of black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds - 50 per cent higher than across all UK jobs.

But fewer than one in five people working in tech are female, compared to 49 per cent across other sectors.

Eileen Burbidge, partner at Passion Capital & Chair of Tech Nation, added: “From fintech to healthtech, self-driving cars and artificial intelligence, the UK’s digital tech sector is having an impact on every aspect of our daily lives and economy.

“Tech Nation’s survey of the industry shows that confidence and optimism is high, but it is important for us to keep supporting this sector and give British companies the best chance they can to grow and scale.”


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