Tech becomes Bristol's fastest growing industry

The skyline of the city of Bristol
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The Bristolian tech sector is the fastest growing and largest industry in the city, boasting more job openings than any other sector, a much higher average salary, and hundreds of millions of pounds in investment.

Tech-based startups and scale-ups in Bristol have raised approximately £800 million in venture capital investment since 2014, while tech vacancies outnumber those in other sectors, with 1,965 IT-related job openings. This is followed by logistics and warehousing, with 1,840 openings, and 1,315 engineering vacancies.

The number of tech vacancies is also complemented by figures showing the average salary for IT roles, £51,685, is roughly £15,000 higher than the general average salary across the city. As a result, the tech sector has declared Bristol’s dominant industry, according to an analysis by job search engine Adzuna in collaboration with Tech Nation and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

“It's no surprise that Bristol's tech sector is continuing to grow and is attracting huge levels of investment,” said the digital minister Caroline Dinenage. “The work of startups and scaleups in cities like Bristol will be more important than ever as the whole of the UK looks to recover from the coronavirus pandemic. I look forward to hearing how the UK government can continue to help support Bristol's tech burgeoning sector.”

The analysis shows Bristol’s IT industry has undergone a year of healthy growth, despite the wider economic effects of COVID-19, and that the city’s tech hub is well-positioned to compete with comparable hubs in Cambridge, Oxford and Edinburgh. There are 430 tech firms in Bristol, employing 8,000 individuals, with large corporations including Nokia, BT and Oracle also hosting offices in the city.

Part of the reason for Bristol’s dominance in this area can be attributed to its ties with the University of Bristol, which is among the top ten institutions in the UK for producing companies. One example cited by Adzuna is Ziylo, a biotech company sold to Novo Nordisk in 2018 for £623 million.

The people of Bristol are also upskilling at a fast pace, according to upGrad data, with a 34% year-on-year rise in people learning Python skills, for example.

“With a mixture of homegrown startups and established tech giants, tech workers in Bristol have their pick of employment opportunities,” said Adzuna co-founder Andrew Hunter. “Despite the challenges of 2020, tech has proven to be resilient as long as there is enough skilled talent to go around. This will be a crucial challenge for Bristol’s tech companies over the next year.”

Adzuna, Tech Nation and DCMS previously conducted analysis into Cambridge’s growing status as a key UK tech hub. Figures showed that Cambridge has been able to attract some of the country’s best tech talent due to a much higher median salary for tech roles versus tech roles across the nation.

Venture capital funding has also surged in recent years, with investment growing from approximately £359 million in 2018 to £472 million last year.

Keumars Afifi-Sabet

Keumars Afifi-Sabet is a writer and editor that specialises in public sector, cyber security, and cloud computing. He first joined ITPro as a staff writer in April 2018 and eventually became its Features Editor. Although a regular contributor to other tech sites in the past, these days you will find Keumars on LiveScience, where he runs its Technology section.