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In recent years, the UK has emerged as a formidable contender in the global technology scene, with the potential to establish itself as the European rival to California. With a booming tech industry, innovative startups, and a supportive ecosystem, it’s easy to see why in the Spring Budget, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, claimed that the UK is “on track to become the world’s next Silicon Valley”. This transition is not just a testament to the country's progress but also highlights a broader shift in the global tech landscape.

Roke has been a leader in the British tech sector since the 1950s. From creating the technology behind Hawk-Eye and the development of digital radio, to our modern-day work championing AI and revolutionising the Army’s Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) system, we have delivered groundbreaking work across the decades. We also developed the world’s first portable 3G base station to create a private network for the emergency services if the national telecommunications infrastructure failed during a major incident.

But how are we directly influencing this accelerated tech growth across the UK?

Location, location, location

The South – strong and established

At our Romsey HQ in the heart of Hampshire teams of engineers and crucial business professionals work across various business units creating solutions and developing new technologies.

In contrast to our historic manor-house grounds, the Romsey hub boasts state-of-the-art innovation facilities, and it’s not uncommon to see autonomous squads of robots walking side-by-side with the local pheasants. In fact, Romsey is the home of some of our most forward-thinking innovation, including our work scaling the autonomous use of robots, which could define the way military operations are run for years to come.

It’s no wonder then, that the government describes the south of England as an established advanced engineering cluster with strong capabilities in digitisation and automation, and a unique set of physical assets for testing and evaluation. The south is also the UK leader in digital engineering - something we know a thing or two about!

Manchester – the fastest growing tech city in Europe

Recently crowned the fastest-growing tech city in Europe, Manchester is a breeding ground for new and established tech talent and innovation, and the viable alternative to London.

From June 2024, we will move to a new client hub in the heart of the city. This will create further high calibre jobs and deliver mission impact for clients. From this new cutting-edge facility, the team will leverage the emerging technology that’s revolutionising the way we live and work. To do this, they specialise in using artificial intelligence (AI), data science and cloud engineering to support government customers and industry.

Growth in Gloucester

Our newest hub marks a key milestone for the business, allowing it to better support its customers in the area. The office has been designed to adhere to our high-tech requirements and provides a prime location for hosting clients.

Gloucester already has a thriving tech ecosystem, but this move is part of our continued investment into building and growing the UK’s science and engineering industry. Our goal is to create more jobs and opportunity for a more engaged and technically skilled workforce, to help in solving real world challenges now and in the future.

Our Intelligence team is also based in Gloucester. It works to redefine global standards in commercially outsourced professional intelligence, by delivering unparalleled advanced intelligence capabilities – integrating the expertise and tradecraft of intelligence professionals with cutting-edge technology, including AI, machine learning, and advanced sensor technology data.

Woking – a link to the capital

Due to its strategic location, Woking is a key link to London, providing a wealth of tech talent and innovation a stone’s throw from the congested capital. The town itself boasts a strong tech community with particular focus on information technology, motor vehicle design and manufacture, oil and gas, financial and business services industry and environmental technologies.

For us, it’s the home of the Roke Academy programme and Futures team, which specialises in servicing the Energy, Aerospace, Central Government and Law Enforcement markets.

Our Futures team partners with cross-industry clients, using tech and innovation to help shape their future and bring clarity to a complex world. By developing strategies, deploying market analysis, and using data and AI, they digitalise, create innovation and identify new opportunities that bring value to customers.

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Government initiatives and investments

The UK government has been instrumental in fostering the growth of its tech sector. Through favourable policies, funding opportunities, and initiatives aimed at attracting talent, the government has shown a clear commitment to establishing the UK as a leading tech hub. Initiatives such as the Future Fund, designed to support high-growth companies during the COVID-19 pandemic, underscore the level of support the tech industry enjoys.

We’ve long worked with the government to push technology to the forefront of its industrial connections. Not only has our work brought key developments such as improved geolocation for UK law enforcement and reduced psychological harm to investigators by using the latest deep learning technology to detect and analyse unseen Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) at breakneck speed, it’s also helping to define how changes in technology are used in the country.

Last year, we worked with the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) to develop a set of easy-to-understand principles to ensure developers can use and create machine learning models safely and securely. This work encourages the use of this game changing tech in a responsible and beneficial way.

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A diverse and inclusive tech ecosystem

What sets the UK apart is not just its technological prowess but also its diverse and inclusive tech ecosystem. This diversity fosters creativity and innovation, enabling the development of technology that caters to a global audience.

The UK government is currently working to break free from using large primes to deliver major contracts, with a new focus on engaging agile, expert SMEs. We’ve created an ever-growing ecosystem, following Open Standards principles, of small, niche technology partners to address this change of tactic, enabling SMEs to benefit from state-of-the-art facilities and client access while supporting and nurturing their deep expertise and innovation.

We are also dedicated to bringing people from different backgrounds into the tech industry. Our STEM outreach programme works with educational organisations from all over the country, and initiatives such as The Roke Academy are providing routes in for undiscovered talent who may not have previously had the opportunity to enter the tech field.

Our Rokies: Making the extraordinary, everyday

As a trusted partner to governments and organisations, we research, design and build solutions that protect and support its missions, and accelerate technological growth. Our extensive expertise in developing bespoke software at scale within customer infrastructure and public cloud means we can advise, deliver and support the digital transformation of any UK organisation.

We have a clear view of the future. We see how the world is changing, and our customers rely on us to develop strategies, deploy market analysis, and use data and AI to digitalise, create innovation and identify new opportunities.

But our main strength is our people. Our team of brilliant minds partner with our cross-industry clients using tech and innovation to help them shape their future and bring clarity to a complex world. We invest in our Rokies to make sure there are opportunities available for them to get involved in career defining projects, undertake new qualifications and make the world a safer and more secure place.

The UK's emergence as the "Silicon Valley of Europe" marks a significant shift in the global technology landscape. With its vibrant tech ecosystem, supportive government policies, and focus on diversity and inclusion, we’re not just mimicking Silicon Valley's success but carving out our own identity as a global tech leader. As the UK continues to innovate and grow, it sets the stage for a new era of technological advancement that is diverse, inclusive, and forward-thinking.

An interconnected globe

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If you would like to know more about any of these topics or how Roke can help support your organisations digitalisation journey, please get in touch.

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