Tech Nation report highlights the growth of Wales’ tech sector

Wales may have created a strong economy off the back of veteran industries such as coal and steel, but it’s now building a successful technology sector.

That’s according to the latest Tech Nation report, which is published by Tech City UK on an annual basis to highlight the growth of Britain’s tech clusters.

These past twelve months have been lucrative for Wales’s digital sector. The report claims that the sector has a GVA of £392 million, compared to £369 million in 2016.

While that’s only a small growth, it’s still a sign of prosperity for the industry. As well as this, there was a total of 103 start-up births, and the number of digital jobs is at 17,471.

There’s also been a small growth in the average salary for Welsh tech professionals, with it standing at £43, 459. In 2016, digital sector workers took home £42,000 on average.

Although there have been some great advancements made across Wales, the report highlights the fact that most of the growth has been in Swansea and Cardiff.

The report also surveyed the opinions of Welsh start-ups and professionals. A staggering 89 per cent of them agreed that there’s an impressive quality of life in Wales, with the average house costing £185,639.

A further 71 per cent said the cost of living is also good, while 76 per cent of the respondents agreed that there’s room for more growth in the industry.

That’s not to say there aren’t any challenges, though. 46 per cent said there’s a lack of high-skilled workers in Wales, and 41 per cent believe that access to funding is an issue.

Gerard Grech, CEO of Tech City UK, said: “We’re proud of what we’ve achieved together. We work with entrepreneurs, investors, universities, accelerators and government policy-makers to help build a vision for our tech nation. The UK now has a tech industry that is the envy of Europe, a FinTech hub that is the envy of the world.

“That being said, it is critical that we future proof what we have achieved so far. The recently announced digital strategy from the UK government is already setting us on the right path.

“Tech is at a critical juncture and as we head into the future we must reassure founders, investors, international talent, and our home-grown digital work-force that the UK is and will remain the best place to start and scale world-class digital businesses.”

Speaking to Tech Dragons, Cardiff Start co-founder Neil Cocker said he’s pleased to see the report adding even more insight into the success of the Welsh technology industry.

“Cardiff Start has been helping Tech City UK with insight into the South Wales cluster since the very first Tech Nation report. We’re pleased to see how it has continued to grow and offer more and more insight, but we’re mainly proud to see how Cardiff and Swansea have grown and developed in those few short years,” he said.

“However while optimism is high, community and number of events are well above average, and quality of life is almost unsurpassed, the report demonstrates that there are still major issues around talent supply and access to finance.”

Jennifer Clay, CEO of Techhub Swansea, added: “We have always known that high-growth tech companies can have a transformative effect on an economy as they provide better jobs with higher wages, therefore improving standards of living within the region.

“This report rubber stamps that opinion. However, we must make sure the investment goes to the right places. Our experience is that building tech communities is about investing in people.

“This means giving people direct access to money to improve their chances of success; through funds, investment, events and education within the tech community.

“It’s worth remembering that our regional tech clusters are the lifeblood of our tech economy. This increase in investment is encouraging, but more is needed. Particularly for early stage seed rounds.

Image credit: Mario Sánchez Prada