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4 February, 2020 - 10:06 By Kate Sweeney

Cambridge tech talent dogfight sends region’s salaries ahead of London

The enduring battle to land top talent in the Cambridge science & technology cluster has propelled salaries for C-level executives in the East of England to the top of the UK pay league – ahead of London for the first time.

A study published by specialist high-growth search firm, Upscale Partners, reveals that the average C-suite basic pay in London was £126.5k – lagging behind the East of England where this figure rises to £135k.

Emma Brown, co-founder of Upscale Partners, says that while larger salaries stand to reason with the East of England home to a significant tech cluster in Cambridge that attracts talent from around the world, the results are also representative of a wider shift in the way technology ventures approach compensation. 

Brown said: “Increasingly, companies and their investors are recognising the need to be competitive in a global talent marketplace. Ambitious businesses are looking to broader salary benchmarks when setting their hiring budgets, and they’re casting the net much wider beyond their local market.”

Creating a high-growth company requires access to the very best people – but there are limits to what start-ups and scaleups can offer by way of compensation, says Brown.

Most ventures need to raise funds in order to make key hires and, historically, investment has been easier to come by in London and the South, she says.

However, this landscape is also changing: last year, data from British Business Bank revealed that equity investment in companies outside of London had increased by 29 per cent to £2.8 billion. If this trend continues, the tech sector could see a levelling of the playing field across more regions before too long, says Brown. 

At the highest levels of leadership there is further evidence that London’s dominance may be waning. The Upscale Partners report found that the average basic salary for tech CEOs in the capital is just 0.4 per cent higher than their counterparts across the rest of the UK (£153,800 vs £153,230, respectively).

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