The president of the Confederation of British Industry (CIB) said that the future of UK tech rests on the development of high-end companies.

In a recent speech, CIB president Brian McBride urged the United Kingdom to emulate the US and explore the development of “decacorns” — companies with the potential to grow and be valued at $10 billion or more.

According to McBride, UK businesses must expand, form alliances, and adopt digital skills in order to strengthen the country’s economy.

The CBI’s stance

McBride said that while startups are crucial to the UK’s technology sector, additional expansion is necessary and feasible. The sector is currently valued at around $1 trillion. British tech firms employ 1.6 million people.

According to McBride, the US is the top investor in technology, with the UK coming in second. Together with the US and China, the UK is part of the only three countries in the world with over 100 unicorn companies — private companies valued at $1 billion or more.

McBride’s words align with Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s latest Autumn Statement. One of the main points was that the government intends to use technology to support economic growth.

To strengthen the UK’s technological leadership, McBride further advocated for greater collaboration between companies and academic institutions as well as the promotion of a corporate culture that encourages organizations to share innovations.

Labour and skills shortages

McBride went on to say that the biggest issue to business is labour and skills shortages. To address this, the CIB president urged the government to release the new Occupation Shortage List, a list of jobs that are in short supply and have more lenient requirements for sponsored work visas

“Just one in five UK firms now have ‘high’ digital tech adoption compared to nearly two in five in the Netherlands and half of Danish firms”, McBride noted. “Closing that gap and getting more businesses tech-enabled promises big prizes.”

Tip: The UK is scanning all internet-exposed devices in the country