2023 was a mixed year for the UK. Political instability and economic volatility posed a host of challenges for scaling SMES, from rising interest rates to inflation. Despite this, the UK technology sector has remained a beacon for global investment, innovation and opportunity.
The UK technology sector leads in Europe and ranks third behind the US and China on the global stage. UK tech startups are valued at $996.8 billion – an increase from the $988 billion recorded in 2022. And while the total value of investment raised through funding rounds has been lower this year, the UK has continued to attract international talent.
This year, a number of prominent tech companies officially launched in the UK. These launches were marked by press and communication campaigns, delivering top tier brand awareness and an effective manner in which to outline their objectives over the coming years.
As an agency that regularly supports UK expansion strategies of tech companies already established in their native markets, we have listed three standout businesses who launched into the UK and the headlines in 2024.
The EU has laws that are common across countries. This makes it easier for a European-based company to rapidly expand across the continent due to the general standard of regulatory measures are the same set by the European Union. However, access to the UK is slightly different, though the benefits of launching in an English-speaking country are significant, increasing global visibility and access to new consumers and investors.
In June, German-based Alaiko published news it was launching into the UK. Described as a direct-to-consumer European fulfilment company, Alaiko’s launch was marked by its partnership with a fulfilment centre in London. Its aim is to empower UK SMEs by presenting them with easy access to real-time tracking, fast delivery and returns. These activities were typically too expensive for SMEs were once exclusive to eCommerce giants, Alaiko aims to level the playing field by making this possible for SMEs.
Moritz Weisbrodt, CEO, Alaiko, commented: “Alaiko’s UK launch is an exciting growth step and we see huge potential in this market for brands looking for a more effective way to deliver for their customers. We’re looking forward to facilitating warehouse and logistics for UK and EU customers.
In October, the Australian-based HR and people management platform Employment Hero announced it had successfully raised £140 million to help fund its expansion in the UK. As part of the news, London was also appointed to serve as its European hub. The decision to launch in the UK was due to the number of SMEs in the country and the consistent regulatory regime in place.
The CEO and co-founder of Employment Hero, Ben Thompson, commented on the timing of their launch and how the platform will support UK SMEs who form the backbone of the private sector. ‘Of the 99.9% of mentioned businesses, these largely don’t have access to the right tools to make that process easy or offer more meaningful benefits to their staff, let alone prepare for the remote-first work future. Employment Hero offers these tools and levels the playing field for all businesses to compete’.
Employment Hero is aiming to build the UK’s first superapp, with plans to increase its London workforce to 180 over the next 12 months and expand its client network of UK SMEs which already numbers 20,000.
Public is a US-based consumer fintech firm that offers its users the ability to invest in US markets, providing access to over 5,000 US-listed equities as well as a social media network. Founded in 2017, it made the decision to launch in the UK technology sector – a monumental move given it represents the company’s first expansion outside of the US. The move comes following a rise in retail investors, particularly here in the UK.
Leif Abraham, co-CEO and co-founder of Public spoke about why the UK was chosen for their first international expansion. “London and the broader UK market has always been the financial epicentre of Europe, so it’s a natural place for Public to start our international expansion.”
Although they are from different parts of the world, Alaiko, Employment Hero and Public’s decisions to launch in the UK in 2023 and expand their presence demonstrates why the country remains a top destination for the tech industry. London’s position naturally attracts international interest, but with rising tech hubs around the UK and new investment, there is no denying the advantages on offer from a UK launch.
Like any local jurisdiction, on the ground knowledge is vital during the planning, launch and post-launch stages. The tech industry is competitive in nature. A muted launch strategy risks undermining a company’s long-term potential to operate in the country. Having a PR and communications strategy in place will ensure the official announcement resonates with target audiences, delivers coverage and appeals to the editorial requirements of UK media targets.
2024 is gearing up to be another big year for the UK technology sector, and we are likely to see more international tech companies taking the decision to launch in the UK.