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Supporting SMEs Q4 2023

SMEs’ role in the digital economy should not be underestimated

iStock / Getty Images Plus / z_wei

Julian David

CEO, techUK

The UK is globally recognised as a leader of innovation and cutting-edge technology. 

Combined with our strong academic and research institutions, the UK produces many impactful start-ups every year, and since 2000 has created almost 400 high-growth startups.  

However, these startups face significant obstacles as they begin to scale, with domestic capital much scarcer for small companies looking grow their business to the next stage. It is no surprise that hundreds of lost high growth businesses have exited the UK market to secure growth elsewhere, and the UK has developed a significant scale-up gap estimated at £15 billion a year.  

This is exacerbated further when considering companies based outside London and the South East. techUK’s Local Digital Index for 2023 showed everything from equity finance, venture capital in tech, R&D spend and R&D tax credits were all lower outside London and the South East. There are significant numbers of digital jobs, companies and investment opportunities in the North of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, but these are less well known and easily accessed, impeding the growth of the regional economies. 

The UK has developed a significant scale-up
gap estimated at £15 billion a year. 

This scale-up gap not only threatens the UK’s position as a science and technology superpower but has detrimental impacts to the UK’s wider economic growth and competitiveness. This is why, ahead of the Autumn Statement, techUK led a coalition of tech businesses, think tanks and trade associations urging the Chancellor to take bold steps in supporting SMEs through a simple digital adoption incentive scheme. We have also called on the government to begin a six month ‘Scale-up Sprint’ bringing together investors, businesses, Government, and regulators over a six-month period to identify potential new investment products and vehicles as well as the regulatory changes that could be used to support them. 

techUK is taking action now to support our members with their scale-up ambitions.  Across 21 workstreams, our expert teams help our members to achieve their business objectives, giving the inside track and access to the industries important to them. Through initiatives such as the Cyber SME Forum, we facilitate hundreds of meetings and events, creating opportunities for members to meet customers, suppliers and regulators, as well as build partnerships with their peers in the sector.  

By engaging with government in addressing these challenges and supporting SMEs across the membership, we have the opportunity to fix the UK’s broken scale-up economy so British firms have the opportunity to become global champions. 

If you’d like to find out more about becoming a techUK member, contact us on our website

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