Q1 2017 investment demonstrated a growing confidence in Northern tech businesses from both local, national and international investor groups. With more than £165m invested, Q1 was among the Northern tech sector’s most successful single quarters in recent years. The most notable investment was the £83m raised by Atom Bank. Based in Durham, Atom is the UK's first mobile only bank. It is leading the way in disrupting a sector long dominated by large, well established players who’s size and traditional structures can sometimes make it difficult to keep pace with technological change. Beyond Atom Bank’s fundraising, the remaining £83m invested in Northern tech businesses is more than the last two quarters of 2016 combined. M&A activity in Q1 2017 was also markedly higher, with 32 transactions, more than double both Q3 and Q4 2016. At the close of March, Tech North debuted the Northern Tech 100, a ranked list of the fastest growing tech companies in the region. At the top of the list is Wakefield based The Car Buying Group, a non-traditional service utilising technology to make its mark in the second hand car marketplace; they grew at a rapid rate of 191% over the past year, emphasising the impact e-commerce is having on traditional retail. Some of the businesses in this Q1 Investment and M&A newsletter also featured in the ranks, such as Tyres on the Drive, The Floow, and UKFast. Businesses developing enterprise software made up the largest share, with 35 making the top 100, but the diversity of the region’s tech scene still showed through, with many companies operating in younger and more niche sub-sectors such as IoT, AI and VR also gaining recognition. Also released in Q1, Tech City UK published its 2017 report on the state of the digital nation. It further highlighted that the North is quickly building itself up as a vitally important digital hub and innovation leader. Consequently, research is now showing that Manchester has the second highest number of people employed in digital businesses, and Leeds has the fifth highest average advertised salary for jobs in the sector.
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