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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

4th February 2020 Vienna, Austria

All eyes on the UK’s tech sector

The UK has one of the world’s largest technology ecosystems with thousands of tech start-ups. As the third largest technology sector in the world, the UK is a global technology leader, with the state-of-the-art capabilities and resources to stay ahead of the curve. In the first eight months of 2019 alone, London attracted 114 FinTech investments with a record-breaking value of more than £1.6bn, according to industry body Innovate Finance and the mayor’s promotional agency London & Partners.

Over the past ten years, Silicon Valley has dominated the start-up investment landscape, receiving over $110bn worth of venture capital and private equity funding. However, London is also showing strong growth, attracting $34.2bn in growth capital, outpacing the total funding received by other tech hubs such as Paris ($8.9bn), Berlin ($9.1bn) and Tel Aviv ($3.5bn). This success is based on a combination of forward-thinking regulators, tech talent and a well-developed network of support for tech start-ups.  Other assets include an advantageous time zone and strengths across all the major sectors (banking, asset management, and insurance), as well as in associated professional services (accounting, legal, and consultancy).

The recipe behind the UK’s success: Financial technology (FinTech)

Another factor boosting FinTech in the UK is the United Kingdom’s dominant global position in financial services.  According to the Tech Nation “UK Tech on the Global Stage 2019” report, UK high-growth FinTech firms attracted £4.5bn in investment between 2015 and 2018, placing the UK as the leader on the global stage. When it comes to attracting investment, FinTech also ranks as the UK’s top technology vertical.

UK Fintech companies meet Austrian financial services companies at my residence

Analysis published a couple of weeks ago by consultancy Z/Yen saw London continue to be ranked second as global financial centre, behind New York. Hong Kong is placed third, Singapore fourth, and Shanghai fifth. The British capital currently hosts 17 of the top 50 FinTech companies in the world, and it is the biggest existing cluster of successful FinTech companies. London-based companies accounted for half of the 10 largest European investments recorded so far in 2019.

Opportunities in Austria – much more than Mozart

Austria has a highly developed banking sector. The Austrian banking network consists of nearly 600 banks, making it one of the most densely banked countries in Europe. These banks have an extremely high market share across Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). FinTech companies based in the United Kingdom working with Austrian banks thus have potential access to upwards of 15 countries.  Austria itself is a country of wealthy consumers, with GDP per capita of €38,000. It also has the highest level of smartphone and internet access in the CEE region. Furthermore, the market for FinTech in Austria is projected to reach €588 million by 2020 and FinTech investments in the DACH region (Germany, Austria and Switzerland) rank second in the EU after the UK. All this means big opportunities for British companies to get first-mover advantage in the market.

This is why the overseas Department for International Trade in Austria (DIT Austria) has over the past three years been introducing Austrian companies and British FinTechs to one another during “UK FinTech Missions to Austria”. In these missions, UK FinTechs have the chance to pitch their products and services to major Austrian banks. Over the past three years, close to 90 UK FinTechs have been introduced to the Austrian market – resulting in export wins and business in excess of £50 million.  You can get a feel for how the business is done by watching our video of the latest UK FinTech Mission to Austria, that took place in late January 2020.

Our next FinTech mission to Austria is planned for January 2021 – get in touch with DIT Austria to stay up to date.

1 comment on “All eyes on the UK’s tech sector

  1. Part of the “well-developed network of support for tech start-ups” is access to angel capital and crowd funding through platforms like Crowdcube and Seedrs. SEIS and EIS tax incentives are also important factors in encouraging start-up funding.

    UK Fintech is a fantastic success story. My main concern is the potential loss of passporting after the transition period which could slow down progress of banking unicorns and hurt the insuretech sector in particular. VC investors may start looking elsewhere.

    Harry Peters

Comments are closed.

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.