Getting started in the tech sector

Author: Esther Greenwood
CBL Business Advisor/Librarian

The UK’s growing tech sector continues to attract investment with £6.3bn* invested by venture capital firms in 2018 of which £5bn was in high growth scale up businesses.

In the UK tech sector InsurTech employs 15,643 people in the UK while FinTech businesses employ 11,855 people. The E-commerce and SaaS sectors both employ more than 8,000 people.

While many businesses are based in London, there are clusters growing around the country in towns and cities stretching from Belfast to Cambridge, from Dundee to Southampton.

So how can you find out more about the business in this expanding sector? One way is to use the Gibson Index, a listing of some 73,000 small UK businesses, highlighting small and medium tech businesses. These include early stage start-ups, University spinouts, SME veterans, technology-led consultancies and business partnerships.

If you wish to research the tech sector in the UK, you will find this an invaluable resource to connect with businesses you might wish to trade with or to research a specific subsector.

The search screen combinations will enable you to produce a list of businesses by sector, geographic area, number of employees.

The coverage is broken down into 44 subsectors enabling you to identify quickly businesses you might wish to connect with. Subsectors include Biotech & Pharma, Robotics & Automation and Instrumentation.

In addition, you can search for award winners such as recipients of The Queen’s Award for Export and businesses that have received UK government research grants or funding.

There is a profile of each business and contact details. Businesses are rated out of 10 according to their future potential using four main factors:

  1. Strength of Management’s Sales Track Record
  2. Quality of the Product or Process Pipeline.
  3. Size of the Potential Market, both in the UK and in international export markets.
  4. Fiscal Status – SMEs have intermittent or regular revenues – cash flow discipline is key.

Businesses that have been bought out or have ceased trading have a score of 0 but are retained in the database so that their history can be traced.

The team compiling the database have met over 25,000 entrepreneurs during their research to understand their businesses.

Data available through Tech Nation, powered by provides open access to information about the UK’s tech ecosystem. As well as contact information, it details the investment each business has received in different rounds and the funds investing. You can search for potential investors from the corporate, venture and angel sectors using the matching tool and find organisations that can provide support such as Accelerators. As well as information about UK businesses, it also covers the North America and Asia regions.

The Gibson Index can be used free of charge at the Library.


*Statistics from UK Tech on the Global Stage; Tech Nation 2019 report

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