Reading consistently tops the tables for economic success and much of this is down to our thriving technology sector, writes Robert Wood, partner and head of office, Osborne Clarke, Thames Valley.
Reading and the Thames Valley continue to outpace the rest of the country in terms of our success and dynamism.
Reading has been named the UK’s most successful economic city while the wider Thames Valley has been recognised in various studies as the most prosperous outside London, the leading technology cluster and once again this year, the fastest growing in the UK.
A recent report on the economic performance of the regions places us ahead of London and the South East, with Reading having enjoyed average annual growth of 3.83% between 2014 and 2017.
At the heart of this is digital – the information and communications sectors which account for so much of local economic activity.
According to the latest 2018 Tech Nation report, the Reading area has more than eight times the concentration of digital jobs compared with the UK national average, employing almost 60,000 people in a sector now worth more than £13.6 billion a year.
The report states: “Reading’s proximity to London and Heathrow airport has long attracted major multinationals, including Microsoft and Oracle. However, its start-up community is now growing too, and tapping into the established expertise and resources available in the city.”
Indeed, the success of Reading’s economy, driven by the tech sector, was instrumental in the Government’s choice of location for the new Trade Remedies Authority, the body which will take on powers from the EU post-Brexit to investigate, and propose responses to, unfair global trade practices.
The authority will bring hundreds more high-skilled jobs to the area including economists, lawyers and investigators, and the Department for International Trade cited Reading’s university, its cluster of leading businesses and its transport links, as being key to the decision.
With offices in 25 international locations, including Reading – which is at the forefront of the move towards connected flexible working – London and Bristol, Osborne Clarke has a wealth of technology expertise.
This specialism is recognised by our peers. At the recent Thames Valley Deals Awards, one major deal on which Osborne Clarke lawyers advised, Newbury-based business transformation provider Roc Technologies’ acquisition of project management firm City Change Management, in which it partnered with BGF, was named Mid-Range Deal of the Year.
Meanwhile three other deals on which we advised were awards finalists. The sale of automotive data business Clifford Thames, to US trade buyer OEConnection Holdings, was a finalist in the Large Deal of the Year category; the MBO at Lucid Group Communications, a specialist provider of strategic medical communications services to the global pharmaceuticals sector, backed by LDC, in the Mid-Range Deal category; and the acquisition by managed print specialist Xeretec Group of Landscape Holdings, in the Small Deal of the Year category.
Other major technology transactions on which our lawyers have advised recently include:
A new £25 million financing round for Community Fibre, the ultra-fast full-fibre internet service provider, led by the National Digital Infrastructure Fund (NDIF), to roll out full-fibre connectivity to a further 100,000 homes by 2019.
The sale of Reapit, an accounting software provider to the residential real estate sector, to a newco backed by management and Accel-KKR.
The acquisition by Infosys of digital innovation and customer experience studio, Brilliant Basics.
Since we became the first European law firm to open an office in Silicon Valley we have also expanded into Asia, opening offices in Singapore, mainland China and Hong Kong, and our clients range from traditional global technology businesses to those creating the latest breakthroughs in artificial intelligence, robotics, blockchain and 3D printing.
We have helped many businesses on their journey from early-stage venture capital financing through to public funding as they have internationalised their ideas and taken on world markets.