Turing Festival

More US investors drawn to UK’s high growth tech cluster

Tom Butterworth: the talent and ecosystem is here (pic: Terry Murden)

US investors are showing a growing appetite for UK technology growth firms, says one of the key backers of this week’s Turing Festival.

Tom Butterworth, managing director of the early stage banking division of Silicon Valley Bank, believes the increasing interest, supported by significantly higher investments, goes deeper than the attractiveness of weak sterling.

“Five years ago, if you called a US investor about an interesting company here they would probably politely decline the invitation to visit,” he said.

“Now they are getting on planes and coming over on a regular basis and some will be setting up offices in the UK.

“We are now seeing more investment from West Coast [of the US] funds into the UK. It is not just about the currency, they are seeing talent and a successful ecosystem here.”

Edinburgh’s tech growth

Mr Butterworth, speaking on the final day of the Turing Festival in Edinburgh, also noted that investors are writing larger cheques, while companies are staying private for longer.

“The fundamentals are stronger, certainly than in 99-2000 [the first dotcom boom] .”

Mr Butterworth, originally from Bolton, has been with Silicon Valley Bank – a commercial bank – for 12 years and said its own growth in the UK was a symptom of the evolving tech community that was looking for different ways to manage its money.

He said Edinburgh’s growth had been noted by the international community, particularly as the home of unicorns such as FanDuel and Skyscanner, and said exits [sales] were a key part of the mix.

“They enable capital to be recycled with new businesses created,” he said.

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