Building on Reading’s tech sector success: unlocking access to talent and funding

Technology businesses continue to drive the economy forward, but face a number of significant challenges, as highlighted during a recent event hosted in Reading by Tech Nation, the network for tech entrepreneurs.

Tech Nation’s latest insight report* shows that a vibrant tech sector is good for national and local economies – evidenced by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) statistics that, in 2017 the average GDP per person employed in the UK was £64,000. By contrast, Tech Nation reports that turnover per employee in Reading’s digital tech sector in 2017 reached £234,000.

Tech Nation’s research states that businesses in Reading’s digital tech sector generated turnover of £13.6bn in 2017 and employed over 58,000 people – and workers in the sector tend to be relatively well paid: digital natives earn an annual salary of £42,578 on average, compared to the average annual salary in the UK of £32,477. 

According to business start-ups, Reading’s good transport links are its greatest strength – and in particular, the importance of good connections, including Heathrow, is highlighted in the Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce’s 2018 Business Manifesto, which supports the development of the Western Rail Link to Heathrow airport.

Reading’s tech businesses face some challenges, however. Tech businesses in Reading, and most notably start-ups, say their biggest challenge is availability of workspace, followed by access to funding and, thirdly, access to talent.

The Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce makes mention of talent in its Business Manifesto, advocating closer working between businesses and local schools and universities. Tech businesses can inspire the next generation to study tech-related subjects and help them develop the knowledge and skills they need – so increasing their access to talent in the process. Inspiring interest and supporting skills development is vital: according to Tech Nation board member Adam Hale, less than 200 school pupils in the region took A Level computing last year.

Tackling the funding gap is also important for supporting the ongoing development of Reading’s tech sector. Tech Nation panellists identified this as a particular problem for established businesses looking to scale with funding requirements of between £3 million and £5 million. Part of the challenge is that businesses in Reading feel cut off from the main investment community in London – the two sides don’t necessarily meet up.

So what can businesses do? Firstly it’s important to maximise any funding available from national or regional grants, as well as from government-backed incentive schemes such as research & development tax relief. Our specialists have digital, software and tax expertise, and are skilled in ensuring businesses claim the maximum relief to which they are entitled. The relief gives innovative businesses access to valuable and often substantial funds to reinvest in their development.

Secondly, it’s important to make use of all business connections. Moore Stephens will be running an event on 4 October 2018 to introduce Reading-based businesses seeking scale-up funding to potential investors. If you are interested in attending our 4 October event in Reading, please click here.

To discuss any of the issues mentioned in this article, please contact Sarah Friend.

* Tech Nation 2018 report - https://technation.io/insights/report-2018/
 


 

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