FinTech Futures Jobs: Three of the best UK tech hubs outside of London
The UK is a tech powerhouse. Its tech sector attracted record investment last year of £29.4 billion – double that of the previous year – and the number of UK start-ups worth more than $1 billion grew to 116 (compared with 31 in France and 56 in Germany).
Of course, London dominates the UK tech scene. But if you’re looking to follow the money with your next career move, it no longer automatically means job – or accommodation – hunting in the capital.
That’s because regions right across the UK have emerged as tech hubs in their own right.
Indeed, of all the unicorns created in the UK, 35% are now located outside London, as are 35% of futurecorns. That suggests tech growth in regions outside of London is set fair for the years ahead.
And as top firms across the UK compete for fintech talent, including in parts of the country where the cost of accommodation is lower and the quality of life higher, the big question is not why would you look outside the capital – it’s why wouldn’t you?
Forget the London look, get the Manchester beat
Manchester is an obvious tech choice. The University of Manchester actually gave us the modern computer, and the city has retained its des res tech status ever since. A recent ‘top tech city’ report from real estate firm CBRE rated it number one for employers based on cost of living, access to skills and high-quality tech education.
Everyone from IBM and Cisco to legacy banks like Barclays, NatWest and The Co-operative Bank – all three of which have tech hubs in the city – as well as international fintechs such as Worldpay and Xero and start-ups like Bankify and Nivo.
Unicorns such as OakNorth, Flywire, Marqeta and Radius Payment Solutions have all alighted, as has BNPL giant Klarna (though admittedly it’s currently reducing headcount).
What’s the appeal?
Manchester is a thriving hub for creative industries, with nearly 6,000 tech companies located in the Greater Manchester Area, higher than any other regional city. Many are located in clusters such as The Northern Quarter or MediaCityUK in Salford, providing a rich ecosystem of opportunity.
The ability to tap into the area’s highly skilled graduate population has been a key driver for many multinational software and data companies to locate here in the past, while new developments keep them coming. These include Manchester Goods Yard at Enterprise City, a new tech, media and creative cluster, and Bruntwood SciTech, attracting tech stars such as ROKU and Cloud Imperium Games.
Make a move to Scotland
Scotland’s main cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh continue to attract top tech companies too, thanks to the kind of innovation culture that comes with having world-class universities.
Indeed, digital technology is Scotland’s fastest-growing sector for inward investment, with centres of excellence for collaboration emerging across cybersecurity, data, fintech, games, global business services, software and IT. Scotland spawned unicorns such as BrewDog, FanDuel and Skyscanner, plus futurecorns such as Interactive Investor.
In 2021, Barclays Eagle Labs named Edinburgh the UK’s leading technology ecosystem outside of London.
Multiple blue chip technology companies, including Microsoft, Apple and IBM.
Employers such as Tesco Bank, TSB and Computershare have tech hubs. From Swiss fintech Avaloq to US fintech Broadridge and Hong Kong payments specialist PolyDigi Tech, they’ve all found a home here too.
What’s the appeal?
Edinburgh and Glasgow are compact and easy to get around. Glasgow offers the additional appeal of a cool vibe, great value housing and – critically for WFHers – high-speed internet.
The cost of living in Glasgow, Scotland’s biggest city, is 39% lower than London, with employment levels at record highs.
Valley schmalley, it’s all about Silicon Fen
Guess which city recently got a shout out from government as the country’s leading regional tech hub? You don’t have to be a contestant on University Challenge to know the answer – it’s Cambridge.
The city is the leading regional tech city in the UK based on a combination of VC funding, tech salaries and unicorns produced.
Homegrown heroes here include cybersecurity unicorn Darktrace, set up by a former maths student at the University of Cambridge. Chip-maker Arm started with a team of 13 engineers in a converted Cambridgeshire barn. Today, it has offices all over Cambridge, employing 3,000 people.
What’s the appeal?
This is a city that has been innovating forever – in fact, Cambridge Science Park, founded by Trinity College in 1970, is the UK’s oldest science park and home to 130 companies, employing 7,000 people.
It played a pivotal role in the “Cambridge Phenomenon” – the transformation of Cambridge from a market town with a world-class university to one of the leading technology hotspots in the world.