London Dominates Tech Innovation But Smaller UK Cities Thrive In IoT, Data, VR


Manchester is a leader in IoT, while Brighton makes a top ten appearance for AI innovation

A technology innovation index published today by the Open Data Institute and the Digital Catapult has revealed the UK cities that are leading the way in seven of the most prominent areas of tech.

The UK Tech Innovation Index ranks the country’s 36 most active communities across Data, Manufacturing, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Health, Internet of Things (IoT), Machine Learning and
Virtual Reality (VR).

Using data from industry events and conferences together with information on business startup rates, local skills measures and R&D spend, the index provides valuable insight into where British innovation is flourishing.


Far and wide

Unsurprisingly, London comes out on top for innovation across the board, but smaller cities are punching above their weight. For example, Reading and Liverpool are leading on IoT innovation, while Edinburgh, Manchester, Brighton and Southampton are all in the top five cities for innovating with data.

Sheffield, Nottingham, Leeds and Cambridge are all in the top ten for AI innovation, with Brighton and Bristol both making top ten appearances in the health sector. 

A VR innovation cluster is also starting to emerge in Cardiff, showing that smaller cities are often giving birth to more focused and concentrated clusters of expertise.

Furthermore, innovation is often aligned with local industries. This is most aptly demonstrated by the fact that cities such as Aberdeen, Coventry and Birmingham all performed well in manufacturing innovation, leveraging their traditional areas of expertise in the engineering and car industries.

“This new research reveals that innovation around data isn’t a London-based phenomenon, with the current methodology highlighting active communities in Edinburgh, Manchester, Brighton and Southampton,” said Jeni Tennison, CEO of the Open Data Institute.

“Using real-time data to identify clusters should help inform innovation policy, where it’s especially important to respond to how things are, rather than how they were, as well as the behaviour of businesses and jobseekers. Developing measures like this in the open also helps to increase our understanding about what drives innovation and which activities create real impact.”

Perhaps most importantly, the data shows that tech innovation is by no means confined to the capital, giving businesses and the public sector valuable insight into other potential areas for investment.

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