KENT’S THE ANSWER FOR STRUGGLING TECH CITY BUSINESSES, SAYS LOCATE IN KENT

Locate in KentKent is the perfect solution for companies experiencing skills shortages and funding issues in London’s Tech City, according to Locate in Kent, the county’s investment promotion agency.

The Tech City Futures Report, compiled by GfK in conjunction with Grant Thornton earlier this year, revealed that nearly a half (45%) of firms in Tech City could not find the specialist IT skills they needed, with 70% finding a shortage of programmers a problem.

Almost a third (29 per cent) of firms also believe they are being hit by a shortage of available capital needed to market their products, from both institutional and private investors, while more than a third (33%) feel that this has held their business back.

Business leaders questioned in the research said they felt their company was missing out on the latest business opportunities because of their inability to secure funding quickly, with 19 per cent even admitting they have had to let staff go because of a lack of finance.

Even securing funding is not the end of trouble for businesses at Tech City, as of the 43 per cent that managed to do so, 23 per cent had additional problems to contend with. These included the length of time it took and the risk-averse nature of UK banks.

“Kent could be a real option for many companies facing challenges in London,” said Paul Wookey, Chief Executive of Locate in Kent.

“High Speed rail links mean the county is within easy reach of the capital and yet property prices, both commercial and residential, are lower than in London.

“We also have a plentiful supply of suitably qualified graduates from our three universities – the University of Kent, University of Greenwich and University of the Creative Arts – providing a growing skills base.

“There are also great bases for tech businesses, such as Kent Science Park, Discovery Park, the Innovation Centre Medway and innovation centres at The Bridge and The Base, Dartford.”

Paul added that the county is also a family-friendly spot and the ideal place for settling down, meaning employees who want to do this are more likely to stay for many years.

“Creating a workforce that does not need to be replaced on a regular basis can be key to the success of the company, as doing this achieves stability and the creation of a talented and loyal group,” he said. “Kent is an ideal location to develop that base.”

Commentators on inward investment such as Ernst and Young believe that the UK’s economy is too London-centric.

Their 2013 foreign direct investment (fdi) report showed that 60% of investments into the UK went to London, whereas only 6% of Germany’s fdi went to Frankfurt.

A recent ComRes poll found 60 per cent of foreign companies now believe regional destinations are strong investment alternatives to London and 28 per cent said a heavy reliance on London is bad for the UK’s economy.

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