Investment in Northern tech reaches ten-year high

Investment in Northern tech companies has reached a ten-year high, as investors worldwide target the region’s fast-growing digital sector.

Private equity firm, Livingbridge’s, research, conducted in partnership with Experian Corpfin, revealed that 206 deals involving Northern tech companies were completed in 2018, almost double the number seen in 2009, following the UK-wide recession, and 10 per cent more than in 2017. The growth in investment represents the third year-on-year rise in the number of tech deals completed across the North.

The overall value of tech investment in 2018 also soared, with more than £2.3bn completed in 2018, up 77 per cent on the value of deals in 2017.

One of the biggest deals seen across the region was the £1bn acquisition of Leeds-based Callcredit Information Group, a provider of credit reference services, by Illinois-based TransUnion LLC, from private equity owner GTCR. Other landmark deals included: the acquisition of Hunmanby-based Deep Sea Electronics, a maker of diesel-powered generator and battery chargers, by Caledonia Investments; and Baird Capital’s £19.2m investment in Leeds-based Crisp Thinking Group Ltd, a provider of online community management software, allowing the company to double its headcount.

In the last decade, a total of 1,585 deals were completed, with £22bn invested in tech businesses across the North of the UK.

Over this period, investors worldwide have been particularly attracted to tech-enabled communication providers, with computer programming and publishing the most heavily-invested subsectors. Electronic manufacturing businesses and telecommunications companies have also proved strong growth areas.

Matthew Jacobs at Livingbridge, said: “With an exceptional talent pool, the North of the UK has forged a reputation as a global powerhouse for digital investment. Businesses across the region are continually trailblazing in their respective fields, producing cutting-edge tech solutions and snapping up gaps in the market with new innovation.

“Yorkshire in particular boasts a fast-growing tech ecosystem, comprising fintech, creative media, cyber security, data analytics, telecoms, health and education technologies. Leeds alone is home to a dynamic tech scene, with an abundance of scale-up digital companies.

“Last year we saw a rise in investment across the sectors, from fintech to computer manufacturing, and it is interesting to see a large number of deals backed by overseas investors, with the US a particularly prominent player. With such a degree of agility and world-class entrepreneurship in the North, there is great investor appetite for businesses looking to scale.”