Editorial

Dorries applauds UK’s booming tech scene

New digital secretary gives first speech at London Tech Week indicating direction for the industry

Posted 21 September 2021 by Christine Horton


New DCMS Secretary of State Nadine Dorries has praised the UK for its booming tech scene.

Dorries last week replaced Oliver Dowden as Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport last week in the latest Cabinet reshuffle.

Opening London Tech Week 2021 Monday, Dorries said she was “acutely aware of how important the tech industry is to this country. It’s going to be absolutely essential to our COVID recovery.”

Dorries pointed to figures that show the UK tech industry has raised £13.5 billion in the first half of the year – almost three times what was invested in the same period last year.

Additionally, there were more unicorns – billion dollar tech companies – created in the first six months of this year that in the previous 24 years. This is more than France and Germany combined.

She also said that “it’s not all about London” pointing to growth in digital economies throughout the UK.

“Scotland and Wales are smashing fintech. Northern Ireland and the Southwest are hotspots for cyber security. The East Midlands have HealthTech; Yorkshire and the Humber have SpaceTech. There’s a real buzz across the entire country, and a sense among entrepreneurs and investors that the UK is one of the most welcome environments for tech in the world,” she said.

Digital regulation

Dorries said that while the UK has “cracked start-ups” it is now time “to go big, and to begin paving the way for a new generation of British tech titans.”

To make this happen the MP – who is the tenth DCMS Secretary in ten years – said she intended to “do a number of things”.

“First, I’m going to listen. I’m going to hear what the people have to say in this room – and across the wider tech industry – and I want to hear the things you think we could do to drive UK tech up to even greater heights.”

Additionally, Dorries said that the industry is calling for “stable regulation.” This is why the government “has made it a priority to pull everything we’re doing on tech into one coherent strategy.”

She pointed to the Plan for Digital Regulation, which was published in July, which sets out the government’s vision for tech in the years to come.

“Innovation is at the heart of that plan, and I want to work with you to set the right rules for the next era of tech,” she said.

And we’re already doing a number of other sensible things to help, like trying to encourage more pension funds to invest in tech, and reviewing the listing rules, which I know has been a very welcome move.

Dorries herself admitted to being “a newbie” in the world of digital. The controversial figure was a surprise appointment to a role focused on digital and culture, but her involvement in London Tech Week may reassure some in the tech industry.

“As your new Digital Secretary, I’ll stand back where I need to – but I’ll also act where I need to,” she said, advocating for a “cultural change.”

“This is a country known for its entrepreneurial spirit. For pioneering discoveries and scientific breakthroughs,” she said. “And yet I know that amongst tech entrepreneurs, the UK can still be seen as a bit “stuffy”.

“Some institutional investors continue to treat the tech industry with suspicion, or balk at the amount of change the industry is driving. Well, that era is officially over. To this government, it doesn’t matter what you look like, it doesn’t matter where you came from. What matters is who you are. You are the entrepreneurs of today.”