Tech Nation reveals 68 per cent growth in UK global tech exports

Tech Nation

Tech Nation, the company which encourages entrepreneurship and growth in UK tech companies, has revealed that in 2019 the UK was the 5th greatest digital tech services exporter in the world.

In its Unlocking Global Tech report, just launched, it assesses the value of UK digital tech exports and explores the opportunities and challenges for digital tech companies to expand and scale in different regions around the world post Covid-19.

At £23.3 billion in 2019, the UK sat behind India, the USA, China and Germany in the global rankings. This position is driven by a relatively high number (7,497) of high growth exporting tech companies in the UK, many of which Tech Nation says are yet to realise their full exporting potential.

UK digital tech services currently export a much greater value of goods than they import, generating a significant trade surplus of 55 per cent in 2019. This compares favourably to the average trade surplus among the top 57 countries globally, which is 48%. UK digital tech trade surplus has increased by 68 per cent over the last four years – from £8.7 billion in 2015 to £12.8 billion in 2019 – now just behind the Insurance sector (£16.9 billion) and Financial Services (£43.4 billion).

The report also shows that the US was the biggest importer of global digital tech services in 2019, valued at £34 billion, followed by Germany at £33 billion and China at £21 billion. India, Japan, and Brazil have seen the biggest growth in the level of tech services they import – by 29 per cent, 24 per cent and 17 per cent respectively between 2018 and 2019.

Boosting export growth

According to recent projections (Oxford Economics, August 2020), digital tech is currently on the path to boosting exports by an additional £8.15 billion, bringing total digital tech exports to £31.45 billion by 2025.

Tech Nation’s Chief Executive Gerard Grech said: “The UK is a natural home for many scaling tech businesses, and there are a proportionally high number of scaling tech businesses located here that are already well-established in delivering domestic tech services. The UK is also third in the world for the number of UK tech unicorns, and number one in Europe. These factors give us a strong conviction that UK founders, government and industry leaders should all be gearing up to double tech exports by 2025, in the aftermath of both the pandemic and Brexit. By doubling exports, UK tech could contribute an additional £23bn to the economy per year by 2025 and move up the ranks to become a top global exporter of tech.”

Looking ahead at where global opportunities lie for UK digital tech service companies to boost exports, Tech Nation has created a Global Opportunities Index that ranks the top 25 countries in order of which are the most attractive countries to do business with.

The USA and the UK are first and second in the world respectively for digital tech trading opportunities. This is driven by UK online retail and e-commerce sales, which were valued at £688.4 billion (which also includes domestic sales) in 2018 – more than 8 times that of France, with £82 billion. For UK tech companies, Singapore and Brazil are the fastest rising global opportunities for trade, climbing 5 and 17 places respectively in the country rankings for global tech opportunity between 2019 and 2020.

The rankings are determined by factors that contribute to the attractiveness of a location for doing business, with an emphasis on digital tech products and services. Variables such as infrastructure, access to talent and education levels, ease of doing business, regulation, language and consumers are weighted and aggregated to give a sense, for each country, of the opportunity for trade.

Digital Minister Caroline Dinenage said: “The UK is Europe’s tech capital and these figures reinforce our industry’s reputation as a truly global player.

“It’s great to see our digital exports booming which will help create more jobs and opportunities for people up and down the country.

“We are investing heavily in the nation’s digital infrastructure as well as in people’s digital skills which puts British firms in an unparalleled position to seize new, global opportunities on the horizon.”

Tech Nation is publicly and privately funded, receiving public funding from the UK Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport. Its funding from government for 2019-20 is £7.1 million. This represents roughly 80 per cent of our funding. The rest is generated from sponsorship and paid-for educational programmes like Immersion.