Is the UK moving towards a less centralised Germanic-style tech industry?

RMN IT cluster

However, tech hubs in Germany are not limited to major cities. The famous Rhine-Main-Neckar (RMN) IT cluster, located in south-western Germany, is one of the most important ICT locations worldwide, often referenced as the 'Silicon Valley of Europe'. Apart from universities, many software companies, including SAP, Software AG and T-Systems, are based in the region. In 2010, the RMN area was home to 50% of the top 100 global software companies, demonstrating that the area is clearly a significant hub for tech in Germany.

While the RMN area is known for ICT, Dresden is renowned for being the country's main technology research area. With around 300 high-tech companies including Airbus A380 manufacturer EADS, the area provides excellent economic and scientific infrastructure. The Technical University of Dresden, which serves as a state-of-the-art training facility for young professionals, also provides new businesses with an abundance of highly skilled and motivated workers, making Dresden a perfect tech hub.

Munich also represents an important centre for technology in Germany, being home to major companies such as Siemens AG. However, it was not always so. In the 1990s, the area lacked technological innovation. As a result, the Bavarian state government provided the High-Tech-Offensive Bayern, which sought to invest 2.9 billion Euros (around £2.3 billion, $3.6 billion) into R&D in the region. This has allowed Munich's tech scene to thrive, with 30,000 IT companies such as Adobe, Fujitsu and IBM currently using Munich as a European base.

UK mirroring Germany?

With active tech hubs located in Berlin, RMN, Dresden and Munich, Germany appears to have a less centralised tech scene when compared to the UK. But there are signs that the UK is beginning to change in this respect. As mentioned above, Manchester's tech economy has demonstrated enormous growth in recent years and there is also evidence of a slow rise of a tech scene across the likes of Sheffield, Leeds, Newcastle, Scotland and Brighton.

With London's property prices already reaching prohibitive levels, many technology companies are now considering other locations in the UK. Examples such as Sheffield-based dotforge, which attracts and nurtures tech startups around the world, and DYN, a Brighton-based email delivery and traffic management service provider, demonstrate that the tech sector may be beginning to disperse outside the capital.

  • Stephen Georgiadis is a Managing Director at Altium