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Leigh Turner

Ambassador to Austria and UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations and other International Organisations in Vienna

Part of UK in Austria

24th July 2018 Vienna, Austria

Why #UKTECHNIGHT is exciting and why you should care about it

How many tech geniuses can you squeeze into a single room?

We tried this experiment recently when our Department for International Trade (DIT) team in Austria hosted #UKTECHNIGHT at the British Embassy in Vienna.

#UKTECHNIGHT is a unique tech forum focused on key business and investment opportunities in the UK market – and how Austrian companies can be a part of that.  The event covered topics such as AI, Augmented & Virtual Reality, Blockchain, Cloud Computing, Data Analytics, Industry 4.0 and many more.

More than 75 tech companies attended, including entrepreneurs, business angels and other key stakeholders from Austria, Switzerland, Spain, the Czech Republic and the UK.

After Bronwen V. Moore, Director of DIT Austria, had opened the event, Andrew Elwick, Head of Technologies at DIT in the UK, highlighted the wealth of opportunities for innovative Austrian tech companies on the UK market, including:

  • A UK digital tech sector worth £184bn
  • Investment in the UK digital tech sector worth £6.8bn in 2017 – 50% higher than any other European country
  • Almost 70% of total UK digital tech investment going into regional clusters beyond London

Jessie Buscombe, Director of Business Environment at DIT and Sarah Tyrell, Head of Finance, Research and Innovation at DIT, spoke about the UK Industrial Strategy – an ambitious plan to put the UK at the forefront of technological change. They also explained the many government initiatives which help companies to foster innovation.

Finally, Bronwen moderated a panel discussion.  Speakers included me, explaining why the UK was retaining its position as the leading destination for FDI in Europe. Stefan Ebner, CEO of Braintribe, and Frank Molitor, Director of Regional Operations at Frequentis, explained how they had grown their businesses in the UK, sharing their tech insights & business experiences. Oona Horx-Strathern from the Zukunftsinstitut gave her outlook on future Tech Trends; and Nigel Jones of the Northern Powerhouse explained how DIT could help innovative companies establish themselves on the UK market.

During #UKTECHNIGHT, DIT hosted thirteen “1-2-1” business meetings with two DIT Technology specialists who had flown to Vienna specially.  As a direct result of those meetings and the rest of the evening, our DIT Investment Team in Austria picked up over 12 new substantive leads from companies eager to invest in the UK’s dynamic Tech sector.

Investing in the UK tech sector: 5 key facts

  1. UK retained its No. 1 position in Europe for receiving foreign direct investment in 2017. 1200 projects, 50,000 new jobs created. Almost 1/3 were in digital.
  2. The UK digital tech sector is worth £184bn.
  3. Investment in the UK digital tech sector reached £6.8bn in 2017 – that’s 50% higher than any other European country.
  4. Foreign investment in the UK digital tech sector grew by 23% in 2017.
  5. Almost 70% of total UK digital tech investment went into regional clusters beyond London!

About Leigh Turner

I hope you find this blog interesting and, where appropriate, entertaining. My role in Vienna covers the relationship between Austria and the UK as well as the diverse work of…

I hope you find this blog interesting and, where appropriate, entertaining. My role in Vienna covers the relationship between Austria and the UK as well as the diverse work of the UN and other organisations; stories here will reflect that.

About me: I arrived in Vienna in August 2016 for my second posting in this wonderful city, having first served here in the mid-1980s. My previous job was as HM Consul-General and Director-General for Trade and Investment for Turkey, Central Asia and South Caucasus based in Istanbul.

Further back: I grew up in Nigeria, Exeter, Lesotho, Swaziland and Manchester before attending Cambridge University 1976-79. I worked in several government departments before joining the Foreign Office in 1983.

Keen to go to Africa and South America, I’ve had postings in Vienna (twice), Moscow, Bonn, Berlin, Kyiv and Istanbul, plus jobs in London ranging from the EU Budget to the British Overseas Territories.

2002-6 I was lucky enough to spend four years in Berlin running the house, looking after the children (born 1992 and 1994) and doing some writing and journalism.

To return to Vienna as ambassador is a privilege and a pleasure. I hope this blog reflects that.