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  • Writer's pictureSteven Lynch

Are we doing enough to support, grow and retain companies in the UK tech sector?

Darktrace, which is a Cambridge-founded cybersecurity and artificialintelligence company, is selling (and going private) to a US private equity firm (Thoma Bravo) for over $5Bn.

Firstly, enormous congratulations to Poppy Gustafsson (Chief Executive) and the entire team at Darktrace – a phenomenal achievement.

Secondly, does this sale raise the debate about whether we are doing enough to support, grow and retain companies in the UK tech sector? Should we be doing more to cultivate an ecosystem that will allow start-ups to scale, develop and ultimately float here in Britain? The Eastern Powerhouse has argued that channelling Cambridge’s monumental growth in science, innovation and technology could transform the East of England into the UK’s Silicon Valley.

Darktrace's exit will mean that capital and talent will be transferred to the US. Silicon Valley has become well versed in this process, acquiring UK firms for decades, as it has the hard and soft infrastructure, unparalleled networks of technology and skills pipelines to scale companies. So, while the UK has so much to offer - world-class universities, deep talent, and strong tech clusters - we need to make sure companies stay and grow in the UK.

The retention of businesses like Darktrace, Graphcore, Google DeepMind, and Arm (which are often initially funded by the British taxpayer) can preserve IP and drive value through local supply chains. While we need to focus on creating more start-ups, growth in Tech UK and the real wealth generation that we are looking for as a nation will come from enabling the growth of indigenous behemoths. Reversing this trend is something which Innovate Cambridge is looking to achieve.

The news comes as a blow to such aspirations, but it is hopefully a wake-up call that we need to build a better, more dynamic technology ecosystem. An integrated service like an ‘Opportunities Hub’ to support the development of fast growth businesses in the region could provide the dedicated guidance and advice, building on existing networks (Angel investors) and mentoring for entrepreneurs from business leaders who have managed this transition from start-up to gazelle.

Do we really have the ingredients to level up UK tech and forge our own world-leading ecosystem?

Please let us know your thoughts:


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