Case study: How Dealroom and Tech Nation launched a world-first startup database
Tech Nation is a UK network for ambitious entrepreneurs. It supports founders to scale their startups and take their businesses to the next level.
- Nowhere for entrepreneurs to find detailed information on the UK tech industry
- Difficult for policymakers to gain key market intelligence such as developing trends
- The lack of comprehensive data was a source of friction, slowing sector growth
- Tech Nation and Dealroom launch the world’s first free-to-use Data Commons for UK Tech
- Provide a holistic view of the rapidly evolving innovation economy, right across the UK
- Level the playing field for entrepreneurs by providing a rich new open data source to inform their decisions
- Second-highest number of page views ever on the Tech Nation website
- Ability to make hyper-targeted connections between a broad range of partners within the ecosystem
- Ground-breaking national database sparking a new wave of investment, bringing jobs and prosperity to the UK
“Entrepreneurs tell us that the Data Commons for UK Tech has been groundbreaking; that it helps them to figure out where they sit in the UK tech ecosystem when they would not have been able to afford this information before. It breaks new ground.”
Challenge: lack of data inhibits growth
Speak to any entrepreneur, and they’ll tell you that a major roadblock to growth is getting affordable access to good data – specifically, the type of data that investors have in terms of companies, deals, investors, accelerators, economic activity, and fundraising opportunities. Without good data, entrepreneurs struggle to find investment and make smart decisions about the future of their company.
“Ordinarily, people would have to pay quite heavy subscriptions in order to get access to firm-level data,” says Dr. George Windsor, Head of Insights at Tech Nation. “That subscription inhibits people from having all the information they need to make good decisions.”
To make the founder’s journey much easier to manage, Tech Nation and Dealroom jointly launched the Data Commons for UK Tech, a ground-breaking open-access database of the United Kingdom’s entire tech ecosystem.
“We put it together at the national level so people can see what is happening right across the UK, and to provide entrepreneurs with all of the fuel they need to continue accelerating the growth of their business,” George says. “It’s a unique opportunity to highlight information that the public doesn’t normally have access to.”
Solution: a vital resource for founders, investors, and policymakers
The new Data Commons has been created to provide a 360-degree view of the technology startup economy, right across the UK. It includes information on individual businesses, founders, investors, VC funds, accelerators, and service providers to the sector.
“What the data does, uniquely, is set out all of the deals happening in the UK and across Europe and Israel, and increasingly across the US and China,” explains George. “So, we can start to compare what is happening in the UK at a national and a regional level. Entrepreneurs can understand what is being invested in and make better decisions about what money they take and what they should be looking for in terms of an investor. Without the Data Commons, they wouldn’t have that ammunition.”
For policymakers too, the Data Commons is an important tool. “We’ve had a lot of engagement at the national level from the likes of the Department for Digital, Culture Media and Sport, where they’re using the data to understand the different sub-sectors of tech like artificial intelligence and cybersecurity and where there are hot spots. But also, at the local level, regional governments are understanding what they can put in their local industrial strategies and what sectors they can look to support on the ground.”
“We’re highlighting where there are great, thriving tech companies that Dealroom can articulate to policymakers, that they might not have known about before.”
Result: helping the UK’s emerging tech sector fulfil its potential
Since its launch, the Data Commons for UK Tech has enjoyed the second-highest number of page views ever on the Tech Nation website. This shows that people are engaging with the data and they’re using it to make valuable connections. “Our organisation has 11 Entrepreneur Engagement Managers based in tech clusters across the UK and they use Dealroom data to make targeted introductions,” George explains. “Say an investor asks about Manchester-based AI companies who are eligible for Series A funding, we can connect them to relevant matches. Without the Data Commons for UK Tech, we wouldn’t be able to do any of that connecting.”
At the macro-level, there’s a much larger ambition – to provide a world-leading resource that can spark a new wave of investment and “over the last year, we’ve seen UK tech investment increase from £6.3 billion in 2018 to £10.1 billion in 2019. Around 44% of the new investment came from North America and Asia, and we know that those investors would not have a lot of information about UK tech companies unless they were able to access data like the information in the Data Commons for UK Tech.”
Already, the Data Commons is the most extensive free-to-use tech industry data platform in the UK. But the ambition is to make it even better. “We want to start collaborating with other organisations to put more data into the Data Commons,” George explains. “The data we already have is superb and revolutionary, but evolving the platform with data on jobs, skills and the supply of tech talent will enrich the picture and provide a fully comprehensive ecosystem map.”
“It’s also about working with policymakers and helping them tap into the potential of tech within their region. And I want us to raise public awareness about the benefits that tech is bringing to the economy, how it is potentially changing the nature of societies, and how they can embrace it. The Data Commons has almost unlimited potential to have a huge impact on pretty much every aspect of the UK. I think it’s really exciting.”