20 May 2016

When will the British media avert its gaze from Silicon Valley and look to what we have on our own shores?

Whilst the innovation and technical advancements coming from the Californian hub are extraordinary and world-changing, I have to ask if whether focussing solely on these big businesses is good for innovation within our own country.focus

As a technology entrepreneur it is my mission to help make Manchester and Britain world-leading hotspots for the digital industries and I can’t help but feel that we are being left on the back foot because of the media’s tendencies to narrow their focus to America. Whenever I click on the national websites’ tech pages, all I see is Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft. Frankly, it’s getting boring.

It’s something that, at UKFast, we have to tackle on a daily basis and we have ever since we began. The hosting industry has traditionally been dominated by large American corporations who almost monopolise areas of the market leaving the barriers to entry for startups extraordinarily high.

Despite this, we’ve continued to grow and increase our brand presence alongside this.

It’s an unenviable challenge and one we’ve never shied away from. We’ve created a unique workplace, along with a Pearson Vue and LPIC certified testing and training centre, in a bid to keep skills here in Manchester and help them to develop – stemming the flow of graduates who flock to London to work for the big multinationals. We’re helping other businesses to do the same and we’re working closely with schools and universities to help graduates leave with an education that’s instantly transferable to a modern workplace.

The technology and digital industries in Manchester and the UK are extraordinary. We’re all doing amazing things that could, and in some cases already do, rival buzzword Silicon Valley, American firms.

It is therefore extremely disappointing to see footage of our office being used to on national television for a story referencing Twitter, Facebook and Google. There are so many businesses in Manchester, never mind across the whole of the UK, who have the great workplaces with ping pong tables, unusual design, office yoga, and the like. I don’t understand why you would come to a British firm, that’s incredible proud to be British and pay our taxes, only to use the footage with no reference of UKFast, instead referencing these American firms. It’s such a shame.

Don’t misunderstand me; I have a huge amount of respect for every technology business and I wholly understand that they’re globally relevant companies. Working with anything relating to the internet is a challenge because it is constantly evolving. In a constantly evolving market it is commendable for any firm to stay relevant and ahead of the curve. However, it is way beyond time that the British media should champion British companies as much as these global firms.

We’ve always been very fortunate with our PR and are regularly asked to contribute to local and national print and broadcast press, but what about those who aren’t? I hate to think of another business, who has never had the opportunity to be on the television before, going through a day of filming in their office and being interviewed, only to see their workplace used as promotion for the companies that they struggle to compete against. It’s quite sad.

And it is a red flag. It’s a signal that we need to champion the small fish in a big pond. We need to get behind the businesses that have the potential to put the UK on a global stage for technology. We need to change the conversation!

There’s plenty to talk about when it comes to the UK and tech, so why aren’t we talking about it?

What do you think?

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