Smaller cities fuel niche tech innovation with Reading and Liverpool IoT leaders

Smaller cities across the UK are fueling technology innovation in niche areas such as manufacturing, virtual reality and IoT production. London is still the UK’s technology hub, according to the fifth UK Tech Innovation Index compiled by the Open Data Institute and the Digital Catapult organisation. However areas outside the capital are showing signs of growth.

The survey, which takes in data from 36 of the largest UK cities across seven disciplines – IoT, artificial intelligence (AI), VR, data, health, creative and manufacturing – found that while London, Edinburgh, Manchester, Brighton and Southampton are the top five cities for data innovation, Reading and Liverpool are leaders in the internet of things (IoT).

Meanwhile Coventry and Aberdeen topped the leaderboard for manufacturing. Cardiff was identified by the survey as showing ‘early signs of an emerging virtual reality innovation cluster’. Wolverhampton emerged as the least dynamic city, while Oxford and Cambridge made up the bottom three cities on the index.

Tom Forth, head of data at ODI Leeds, said: “Our approach to measuring innovation pioneers new ways of picking out the early signs that industrial clusters are emerging. Our results are largely as expected, with large cities such as London, Manchester and Glasgow performing strongly in all areas and well-known over-achievers such as Edinburgh, Cambridge and Brighton punching well above their weight.

“Interestingly, our techniques seem to spot early signs of more focused excellence. In Reading and Liverpool, we see real strength in the internet of things. Leeds does very well in health. And in Aberdeen and Coventry, manufacturing is notably strong.”

Jeni Tennison, CEO at the ODI, added: “This new research reveals that innovation around data isn’t a London-based phenomenon, with the current methodology highlighting active communities in Edinburgh, Manchester, Brighton and Southampton.”

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