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Autonomy CEO: Why UK struggles to rival Silicon Valley

Investment shortfall stifling growth of tech start-ups...
Written by Nick Heath, Contributor

Investment shortfall stifling growth of tech start-ups...

Britain's failure to produce its own Silicon Valley stems from the lack of financial support for UK tech start-ups, according to the head of one of Europe's largest software companies.

Speaking at the The Intellect Annual Regent Conference in London, Autonomy CEO Mike Lynch said tech start-ups struggle to get the smaller sums they need from UK investors, and also argued that the UK lacks technology marketing skills.

Lynch said UK universities are producing graduates with world-leading skills in science and technology, but Britain lacks large numbers of major tech companies.

Autonomy's Mike Lynch:

Autonomy's Mike Lynch: "There's a particular difficulty in venture capital around the £1m mark"
Image: silicon.com

"The bottom line is that we produce these great graduates but we produce relatively few large tech companies," he said. "There is a whole series of reasons for that - there is a problem with seed funding; the angel community does a great job but it's very limited in the UK.

"At the small end of the investment - £50,000 to £100,000 - firms do not do it because it is not efficient.

"There's a particular difficulty in venture capital around the £1m mark and we're not the world's greatest market for doing IPOs for technology businesses.

"The other side of it is that there is relatively little technology marketing in the UK."

However, he said UK graduates' high-end technical skills make the UK an ideal location for technology R&D: "What we have in the UK is a massive technical ability - it is a massive advantage to do R&D in the UK."

"What the UK tends to excel at is technical know-how - you take an ARM that sells chip designs to others or an Autonomy that licenses its software to others, that's a very good model for the UK.

"It's like being in a country where you have incredible natural resources - in this case, people - but you are very bad at exploiting those resources."

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