Salesforce plans to pump £1.9 billion into UK initiatives

London Thames

Five-year investment will include a second UK data centre

Prime minister Theresa May is set today to announce a slew of new commitments aimed at boosting the UK's tech industry, which include access to a £2.5 billion government investment pot.

The announcements coincide with London Tech Week, which will be the setting for a number of government-led roundtable events with leading technology firms looking to invest in the industry.

CRM giant Salesforce is expected to commit $2.5 billion (£1.87 billion) to the UK market over the next five years, which includes the building of a second data centre.

Andrew Lawson, Salesforce's executive VP and general manager for the UK, said: "Salesforce is working closely with the government to ensure innovation and technology are at the heart of the UK economy. Our $2.5 billion investment will help British companies drive innovation, boost productivity and build deeper connections with their customers, all key drivers of economic success.

"We know that financial investment alone won't do that, and that's why we're also focused on driving equality and diversity within the industry. Truly innovative businesses need people from multiple disciplines and different backgrounds to solve problems in the most creative and successful ways."

Salesforce plans to hire 900 new staff over the next five years in the UK, while NTT Data will create up to 200 jobs over the next three years.

Another £300 million will come from the UAE-based Mubadala Investment Company in the form of a European investment fund, and an additional £41 million from Japanese firm NTT Data as part of its expansion into the UK.

The government's own £2.5 billion commitment will be in the form of a British Patient Capital programme that aims to support businesses with high growth potential with access to long-term funding. This fund is also expected to be supported by a further £5 billion in private investment.

"The measures we are announcing today will allow innovative British startups to invest in their future - and in the UK - by hiring more skilled people, expanding their business and exporting their expertise across the world," said May.

"It's a great time to be in tech in the UK, and our modern Industrial Strategy will drive continued investment, ensuring the nation flourishes in the industries of the future and creating more high-paying jobs."

In an effort to make it easier for businesses to source overseas talent, the Prime Minister will also be scrapping the current graduate visa programme and replace it with a 'startup visa', a streamlined route that will be available to foreign entrepreneurs once it launches in spring 2019.

"Britain is a digital dynamo with the government and tech sector working together to help make this country the best place in the world to start and grow a digital business," said culture secretary Matt Hancock. "We're encouraging the best and brightest tech talent to come to the UK and creating the right conditions for our high growth digital businesses to thrive."

The government has also committed to the building of two new tech hubs in Brazil and South Africa, designed to encourage the development of digital skills in the regions and foster greater relationships with UK businesses.

NTT Data UK CEO Simon Williams said today's announcement "shines an important light on the UK technology sector and the incredible talent emerging across the industry".

Commenting on the company's £41 million investment, he added: "NTT Data has a proud history of investment and innovation in the UK, which is one of the most competitive markets in the world.

"Companies like NTT Data recognise that by investing and succeeding in the UK, we are in a very strong position to succeed in other markets around the world."

The UK technology industry attracted $7.8 billion in funding, almost double that of 2016 and $1.8 billion more than France and Germany, according to government figures.

Antony Walker, deputy CEO of trade industry body techUK, said: "This is another vote of confidence in the UK tech sector. The billions of pounds of investment and thousands of new jobs shows that the UK remains a global hub for tech.

"The government is clearly determined not to abandon the playing field to France and others when it comes to presenting a strong offering to tech entrepreneurs and investors. The Industrial Strategy has been very positive for tech. The challenge is to build on these strong foundations. We need to digitise our economy, grow our domestic digital market and identify new export opportunities."

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