14 Apr What is ‘MidTech’, and why is it growing?
‘MidTech’ can mean many things. Type ‘MidTech’ into Google and it’ll bring up a handful of varied businesses, mostly around Birmingham. However, in the context we’re talking about, MidTech isn’t a business or place, but more of a process.
What we’re referring to is a trend that’s been growing in recent years. More and more London companies are outsourcing their tech and software development requirements to Midlands-based companies such as B13 Technology.
People involved in the tech industry have begun to call this trend ‘MidTech’ (not to be confused with ‘MedTech’, which refers to medical technology).
But what are the effects of this trend, and why is it happening? Let’s take a look.
What’s happening in the Midlands tech sector?
MidTech is certainly having a big impact on the region. Before the pandemic, the Midlands had the fastest-growing tech sector in the UK. And it shows no signs of slowing – the tech sector in the West Midlands alone is now worth over £15 billion.
Birmingham and the West Midlands are now home to over 2,000 tech startups, with other Midlands towns such as Nottingham, Warwick and Coventry also seeing significant increases.
The region is fast becoming the place to go for new tech businesses, with hundreds of millions in venture capital raised here every year.
This is good news for the area – the government predicts that tech growth in the West Midlands will generate £2.7 billion for the local economy by 2025.
Of course, this is opening up huge opportunities for employment, and over 144,000 people are now employed by the Midlands tech industry, with the number of tech vacancies exceeding 10,000.
This growing demand is a boon for skilled tech workers such as software developers, who can now command salaries in excess of £50,000.
All this evidence points towards the MidTech trend continuing to grow.
But what’s caused the Midlands to become such a thriving tech hub?
Why is the Midlands tech hub thriving?
There are plenty of regional tech hubs that are growing, and their growth is driven by some of the same factors that drive the growth of MidTech. We’ll have a look at those widespread factors first, before delving into why the Midlands in particular is growing quicker than anywhere else.
Like most regions outside London and the Southeast, the Midlands offers more attractive rates for businesses to set up their workspaces. Also, government levelling-up initiatives have enabled improvements in regional infrastructure. So startups with limited budgets are increasingly choosing to base themselves outside the capital.
What’s more, the rise in remote working means there’s less need for skilled tech workers to stay in London, where the majority of the UK’s tech industry still resides. The lower cost of living in regional cities is attracting more tech workers.
So both tech businesses and employees get better value outside of London, which explains the growth of regional tech hubs. But what’s so special about the Midlands?
Well, it seems the magic mix of excellent infrastructure, government support, a spirit of innovation and collaboration, and a steady flow of talent create the ideal conditions for MidTech to flourish.
Birmingham has been at the forefront of manufacturing, science and innovation for hundreds of years, so it’s no surprise that the Midlands is now leading the way in the regional tech revolution.
There’s a real buzz around Birmingham and the Midlands’ tech ecosystem. There’s a genuine sense of pride and collaboration, and nowhere is this better demonstrated than Birmingham Tech Week. It’s the largest tech conference outside of London and this October it showcased the best of the region’s tech sector to over 5,000 participants.
Several local institutions, non-profits and initiatives promote collaboration between business and educational leaders and provide funding and support for tech entrepreneurs. Connectivity infrastructure also receives heavy investment, with widespread gigabit broadband providing tech businesses with the bandwidth they need to operate effectively.
These modes of investment and support give tech companies the security and freedom to innovate and push boundaries.
Of course, growth in the tech sector also requires a reliable supply of skilled and talented workers to keep up with demand. The population of Birmingham and the Midlands is relatively young, with a high proportion under 25 years old.
And there’s a high concentration of educational institutions, specialising in science and technology, that are ideally placed to prepare these digital natives for tech and development roles.
The regional governments certainly do all they can to ensure the young people of the Midlands are aware of digital career opportunities, and government-funded scholarships encourage people from all backgrounds to pursue careers in tech.
What next for MidTech?
Local and regional governments are determined to capitalise on these fertile conditions. They continue striving to make the Midlands an attractive place for tech businesses to start up and scale up.
The tech sector will surely continue to thrive, grow and contribute massively to the local economy. Hopefully, in a region that has one of the highest levels of socioeconomic inequality in the UK, the growth of MidTech can break down barriers and provide opportunities for a more diverse range of people.
Perhaps in the near future, it won’t just be London-based companies outsourcing their tech requirements to Midlands-based firms. The theme of this year’s Birmingham Tech Week was ‘Going Global’, and speakers talked about how the West Midlands can make the leap to becoming a global technology hub. Maybe soon, tech companies from around the world will be jumping on the MidTech bandwagon.
Here at B13 Technology, we’ve had front-row seats as the Birmingham tech sector has flourished. We’ve been growing here for over 12 years, working with partners across the UK and globally.
Wherever you are, get in touch to talk about your software development needs.