The Bristol and Bath region is now one of the UK’s leading fintech clusters, an independent review of the sector has found.
The area featured among Britain’s top 10 regions in the FinTech Strategic Review – a report commissioned by chancellor Rishi Sunak exploring how Britain can continue to foster innovation and develop new tech across financial services.
The review, which was headed by Ron Kalifa, non-executive director of the Court of Directors at the Bank of England and the vice-chairman of WorldPay, said there was an increasing number of fintech businesses in the West Country with potential for growth.
The six clusters across the UK showing great potential or with a specialist fintech focus included Bristol and Bath; Newcastle and Durham; Cambridge; Reading and West of London; Wales, especially Cardiff and South Wales; and Northern Ireland.
West of England mayor Tim Bowles said: “The West of England is a forward-thinking and innovative region – we’re home to the UK’s most productive tech cluster which is creating excellent, well paid jobs and career opportunities for people across the region.
“Fintech brings together our region’s strengths in financial services and tech, which thanks to our highly skilled and expanding digital and tech workforce is revolutionising the way that the finance sector operates.”
The review made a number of recommendations around five themes including regional connectivity, skills, investment and scaling up. It also called on the Government to launch a £1bn start-up investment fund and change stock market listing requirements to make the UK a more attractive location for IPOs post-Brexit.
Other suggestions included creating tech visas to attract global talent and boost the fintech workforce and a Centre for Finance, Innovation, and Technology, to strengthen national coordination across the fintech ecosystem.
“Our region is hugely collaborative and well connected, and we’re proud of the start-ups and spin-outs that thrive here thanks to some of the best business incubator support in the world,” added Mr Bowles. “The West of England has rapidly become a vibrant and dynamic hub for innovation in professional services.”
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There are around 1.1 million people now living in the Bristol and Bath region, with some 61,000 employed in financial services or tech, according to the Bristol and Bath Fintech Ecosystem Report.
Between 2019 and 2020, the region’s fintech sector contributed £192.1m GVA, with around 3,400 people employed in fintech-related jobs.
The news follows a report published in December that found Bristol’s burgeoning tech sector is continuing to attract huge levels of investment despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The city is also gaining a reputation for its impact-focused start-ups. Bristol’s start-ups and scale-ups have raised a collective $1.07bn in venture capital (VC) investment since 2014.