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Regional cities climb UK tech sector rankings.

Tech companies are proliferating across the UK as a new breed of tech cities push past older tech hotspots, according to new research from Evaluate|Locate.

Comparing the number of tech firms in May 2022 with a decade ago in May 2012, the rise of new names among the technology capitals of the United Kingdom is clear.

Major movers include Leeds which now is now the UK’s third technology city. This contrasts with a decade ago when Edinburgh was in a dominant position in third place and almost rivalling Birmingham for second slot. Leeds is now home to 1,706 tech firms, surpassing 1,534 that call the Scottish capital their technology hub. Both cities have seen growth, but a ten year growth rate of 48% in Leeds represents double that of 24% in Edinburgh.

The new figures show that Leicester has beaten Bristol into fifth place. The largest city in the East Midlands and home of the National Space Centre is now also home to 1,520 active tech companies. This is just enough to beat the more established technology hub of Bristol which is home to 1,519.

And while victory for Leicester vs. Bristol for fifth place is currently by a hairsbreadth, a 52% growth rate for Leicester over the last 10 years far surpasses 34% for its south-western rival – leaving Bristol likely to trail further in the wake of Leicester’s white-hot tech growth.

On sheer weight of existing numbers, London can claim a wide lead and strong growth, with 46,188 tech companies active in the capital. This is up 58% in a decade. However, more than two-thirds (71%) of the UK’s tech companies are now based  outside of London.

As of May 2022, the Evaluate|Locate model is tracking 158,091 technology firms across the entire UK, which compares to a nationwide total of 116,896 a decade ago. This represents 35% growth across the country in 10years, or an average compound growth rate in the number of UK tech companies of +3.0% per year.

Adam Kirby, Head Of Data & Insights at Evaluate|Locate, comments:

“Tech cities seem to both benefit and suffer from the same mystique and rumour of tech companies themselves – with the best-known not always the most innovative and the up-and-coming often remaining under the radar for a surprising length of time.

“Leeds, Leicester and Glasgow are accelerating up these rankings by beating even the rapid growth of tech companies in other key cities. That’s an impressive feat given the speed of the pack.

“Tech cities in this leaderboard tend to see higher overall earnings for their workforce and residents, suffer lower unemployment and are home to a higher than average ratio of working age people. Some of these factors are likely ‘pull factors’ that cause tech firms to gravitate to a city, while others are more clearly linked to the positive benefits of hosting tech jobs and associated spending in the wider local economy.

“Leicester is something of an especially exciting exception as a rising tech hub. The East Midlands city doesn’t have the same co-dominance of media or finance firms that we see in other tech cities – nor does it yet have wages that far surpass its region. This could bode well if Leicester is able to keep up momentum, retain its tech talent and further funnel its technology-leader status into broader economic growth in a difficult climate.

“Overall, this changing tech landscape highlights the importance of increased investment into the UK’s digital infrastructure which is currently lagging behind that of many developed countries. If delivered, this could prove to be a real driver in the ‘levelling up’ process.”