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Welcome to your round up of some of the past week’s most interesting surveys, statistics and reports relevant to those involved in the UK tech industry.

This week, we have statistics relating to alternative investments, gender diversity in the workplace, global FinTech investment for up to Q3 2016, mobile-savvy workplaces, smart buildings and the top cities in which to start a tech business.

Alternative investment

An index by alternative investments marketplace Off3r has outlined the month-on-month performances of equity crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending platforms over the last year.

The report analysed major equity crowdfunding platforms including Seedrs, Crowdcube and Syndicate Room, showing the combined total raised was £216.25m.

The average amount raised per month was found to be £18m across the 7 platforms analysed, with 80,000 investments made across just under 400 deals.

Peer-to-peer lending platforms analysed raised a combined total of £2.6bn, and included firms such as Zopa, Marketinvoice, Funding Circle and Lending Works.

The average amount lent per month was £197m across the peer-to-peer lending platforms assessed, and September 2016 was the strongest performing month bringing in almost £234m in peer-to-peer investment.

Commenting on the findings, Lex Deak, CEO and co-founder at Off3r, said: “Traditional investors have had a tough year: interest rates hit record lows, inflation rates are set to increase and the economy is suffering from Brexit uncertainty. These events alongside low returns are encouraging investors to consider alternative investment options.”

Gender diversity

Just 43% of FinTech employees believe gender diversity helps drive performance, according to a survey of staff working in London by Astbury Marsden.

With 69% of FinTech companies being made up of men only, this is perhaps unsurprising.

However, 53% of those working in investment banking believe that a balanced number of male and female employees in the workplace boosted an employer’s performance. 71% of private banking employees agreed with this.

Bardia Sohi, COO at Astbury Marsden, commented: “When a FinTech company needs to fill a position – and this often needs to happen quickly – the overwhelming majority of candidates will be men. With increasing numbers of schools and universities encouraging women into STEM subjects, the female talent pool in this area is going to be expanding considerably over the coming years.

“This should filter into the FinTech sector and we should see the current gender imbalance redressed,” he concluded.

Mobile-savvy workforces

A recent survey of 800 executives, IT managers and project management professionals by Changepoint revealed that although 78% of employees want to use mobile time-tracking apps, only 11% currently do so.

The “Mobile Keeps Business Moving Forward” survey also discovered organisations instead rely on Excel spreadsheets (28%) and pen and paper (36%) to track time.

Additionally, the majority of managers (77%) aren’t fully confident in the time sheets they approve, and 49% of those responsible for submitting time entries aren’t confident in their accuracy.

Eric Bergman, vice president of product management at Changepoint, commented: “Technology frees employees to work anytime, anywhere, from any device. Applications like email and messaging have evolved to meet the needs of today’s hyper-connected, mobile workforce. Timetracking should be simple, easy, and offer the same flexibility.”

Global VC FinTech investment

Overall global investment in FinTech increased by 27% to $15.2bn up to Q3 2016, according to statistics compiled by Innovate Finance. This has already surpassed the 2015 total of $14.9bn.

However, despite the soar in global investment, UK VC investment for FinTech firms decreased by 26% in Q3 2016, with the year’s total investment standing at $532m. This is approximately half of the FinTech investment total for 2015.

The UK consequently remains third in total FinTech investment, behind the US and China.

The statistics also revealed over 60% of UK investment in 2016 was in challenger banks, SME financing, money transfer, FX, distributed ledger and digital currency verticals. Starling Bank, which raised $101m, was the only UK investment in the global top 20 deals.

Lawrence Wintermeyer, CEO of Innovate Finance, commented: “While the UK still attracted a high number of deals for FinTech there’s been a significant drop in investment year on year to Q3 2016, possibly due to the referendum result on Brexit and the future uncertainty of the relationship between European markets and the financial services sector.

“The UK government needs to be bold and use the tools it has at its disposal such as the British Business Bank to support the sector. This will become increasingly important with the potential loss of EU funds such as the EIF.

“While Brexit uncertainty may continue to have an impact on investor behavior, remaining attractive to international talent is just as important to maintaining the UK’s current position as the world’s premier FinTech hub. Ahead of the Autumn Statement Innovate Finance urges the Chancellor to ensure the UK continues to drive investment and innovation, attract talent and maintain an open trading relationship with the EU and globally,” the CEO concluded.

Smart buildings

Research released by law firm Charles Russell Speechlys indicates 59% of property professionals think smart buildings will deliver business gains beyond energy efficiency.

Some 75% think it will be up to a decade before challenges in capturing and accessing the data needed to fuel such developments can be resolved, however.

The report, titled “The New Real”, was based on interviews with more than 270 senior developers, landlords, occupiers, advisors and investors. 40% of those interviewed said new revenue streams would be one of the most significant gains from smart buildings over the next 10 years.

Some 72% also said they expect to achieve financial gain from using data collected by a built environment, but only a quarter are yet to take any action to adapt to the trend.

James Carter, managing partner of Charles Russell Speechlys, commented: “Whether you are an owner or occupier, a builder or developer, or a technology provider, the built environment offers real opportunities for the forward thinking.”

London top for startups

London is the top city in Europe to start a tech business, according to the European Digital City Index, compiled by innovation foundation Nesta and the European Digital Forum.

Of the 60 cities featured in the rankings, 9 are in the UK, with 6 of these scoring in the top 20. Cambridge is ranked 12th place for startups, just ahead of Bristol (13th), Oxford (15th) and Manchester (16th). Other UK cities featured are Edinburgh (19th), Birmingham (23rd) and Cardiff (40th).

Chris Haley, head of startup and new technology research at Nesta, commented: “London remains the most attractive European city for digital entrepreneurs in 2016, but Stockholm is snapping at its heels. Government must continue to invest in digital skills and digital infrastructure, as well as addressing the cost of office space, if it is to continue to attract the next Deliveroo or FundingCircle, with many competitor cities in Europe, China and the US working hard to attract young firms.

“Of course, it also remains to be seen how a ‘hard Brexit’ will impact on the UK’s business allure for digital startups, given that access to markets is also hugely important,” he added.

Rajesh Agrawal, deputy Mayor of London for business, said: “This is yet more evidence that London is open for business. It is fantastic news, but no surprise, that London remains the highest ranked city in Europe for digital startups. When you consider our vibrant entrepreneurial spirit, huge talent base and access to capital it is clear that London is the number one place to start and grow a tech business.

“London is open to all manner of technological innovation and has the perfect time zone to trade with all four corners of the world. I am sure that this crucial part of our economy will only go from strength to strength in the coming years,” he concluded.

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