The latest report from national tech network, Tech Nation, reveals that despite economic uncertainty around Brexit, the UK holds a pivotal role in the global tech sector. The report, published annually, looks at how the UK tech sector performs compared to other countries, identifying trends across key areas like companies, communities and technologies.
It shouldn’t come as any surprise that the tech sector is performing well, since the government has also announced several funding schemes and initiatives encouraging tech innovation to transform the economy and respond to global trends. Here we’ll look at tech sector trends as well as some of the UK companies driving this sector forwards.
A big future for small businesses
This year’s Tech Nation report showed that investment for UK scale-up digital tech firms grew an impressive 61% between 2017 and 2018 – which was 2.5 times higher than expected based on the relative size of the UK economy.
The growth rate in London, of 56%, positions the cluster first in the world for scale-up growth, and with £5 billion of investment, the UK ranks 4th in the world for scaleup investment, behind China and India.
The UK is a global tech powerhouse. I am immensely proud of our country’s ambitious tech scale-ups. These companies are delivering significant economic value to the nation through the investment they raise, the jobs they create and the innovative products and services they deliver.Theresa May, Former Prime Minister
AI is booming
Investment in AI has grown almost six-fold between 2014 and 2018, which is reflected in the scaleup growth rate in the AI & Machine Learning sector. This plays a key role in solving the Grand Challenges, which are a family of initiatives fostering innovation to solve key global health and development problems, identified by HMRC. AI innovation is supported by a Sector Deal, with AI expected to deliver £232 billion back to the UK economy by 2030.
The Grand Challenges, set out by HMRC, rely partly on AI – one such challenge requires the use of AI and data to improve diagnosis of medical conditions. We regularly have the chance to work with those innovative UK businesses developing technology to address such issues, like Brainomix and Mapmyhealth.
Brainomix is a University of Oxford spin-out that developed ground-breaking technology to speed up the decision-making process for medical professionals assessing stroke victims. Where speed is such a critical element of diagnosing and treating a stroke, this software relies on e-ASPECTS medical imaging software and is a prime example of where AI is being used to improve the diagnosis of a medical condition, with potentially life-saving results. In addition to working with us to claim R&D tax credits, the university spin-out also attracted £7 million of investment from the corporate venture fund of global pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim in 2018, and its software is now being used in leading stroke centres in over 16 different countries.
Mapmyhealth is a pioneering Oxfordshire-based SME, addressing the issue the NHS has with ensuring newly-diagnosed Diabetes patients learning about the condition, through the invention of Maymydiabetes. This app allows patients to easily access education, information and tools to improve the quality of their lives and avoid unnecessary treatment through mis-management of the condition. When speaking to Iain Brogan, CEO of Mapmyhealth, the difficulties of being a start up were clear, and any funding like R&D tax credits, played an important part in enabling the business to reinvest in their innovation and support their growth plans.
Mapmydiabetes also responds to another government ‘Grand Challenge’; an aging population. There are almost 12 million people aged 65 and above in the UK, and in 50 years’ time this number is expected to grow by 8.6 million. With life-expectancy increasing, time spent on poor health has also increased – and societal changes like these have caused new demands for technologies, products and services.
£210 million is being invested by the government into research and innovation to support early diagnosis of patients and the development of precision medicine to treat them. You can apply for this funding through the new UK Research and Innovation website.
The rise of “AgeTech”
From this, the HealthTech subsector “AgeTech” has been born, generating products which can be used to provide support, like Canary Care, which monitors the daily routine of an elderly person, alerting carers upon its disruption. These innovations enable older generations to maintain their independence, ensuring they have access to care as and when required, whilst living in the comfort of their own home.
Another area of AgeTech experiencing innovation, is software to improve the lives of people suffering from dementia. An innovative app has been developed by RemindMeCare, and is designed to trigger memories in dementia patients. This was developed due to a lack of ‘engagement based’ software available for dementia sufferers – with the technology previously being used focusing on data collection. The idea came from personal experiences of the founders with family members, who wanted to build something that would give the ‘end user’ more power – which is what many AgeTech companies are trying to do.
To support AgeTech start-ups, the government has invested £98 million into research and innovation that supports people as they age and their carers through the Industrial Strategy Fund.
If you’re innovating in the tech sector, get in touch for advice or guidance from one of our tech experts on the funding options open to you.