4. Collaboration, connectivity and culture

The UK tech community is highly connected

Meetup data reveals

3,527UK tech groups

1.6 mmembers


Collaboration is the glue that sticks people and organisations together.

It helps build connections based on shared objectives, views, or missions. While critical to the success of the tech ecosystem, it is difficult to pin down through official data.

Andrew Hunter

Co-founder, Adzuna

Calling in favours, asking for advice and sparring with fellow entrepreneurs has helped me build a big business (and keep my sanity!) over the last 5 years.”

The diagram below shows the national network of informal industry meetups. Tech meetup groups within these ecosystems are grouped, not by geography, but by their shared specialisms – the more similar the tags used to describe them, the closer they are on the network diagram.

This shows how informal industry meetups underpin the UK tech ecosystem and indicate emerging economic activity. This vibrant grassroots tech scene is essential to maintaining and sustaining growth.

If informal industry meetups hint at economic undercurrents, then formal events bring existing economic activity to the surface. They are opportunities for tech communities to engage over shared interests. As such, they also strengthen these communities, since cultures are built, at least in part, on shared experiences.

Formal tech events are also bringing the tech community together in a public, structured way that validates these grassroots connections. The UK’s well-developed network of formal events illustrates the presence of a balanced tech ecosystem.

The largest tech meetup groups are in London, in fact of the 400 largest in the diagram, 323 are based in the capital. This might reflect a number of factors, such as the large resident and working population in the city. It may also show a critical mass of connected organisations that are well placed to arrange and run meetup groups, as well as the local and global connectedness of London. As such,  not every member of meetup groups in London are Londoners. Across the UK, tech meetups are inclusive and porous, as illustrated by the fact that 91% of groups are open for anyone to attend, 9% require approval and only one group is closed.

Top 400 meetups highlight emerging trends, watch out for AI and blockchain as they take centre stage in the conversation

Click on a node, or search for a topic in the network below. A full screen version can be found here.

Top 400 UK tech meetup groups by number of members

Source: Tech Nation, 2018; Meetup.com, 2018. Thanks to the Oxford Internet Institute and JSIC

UK meetup clusters: Artificial Intelligence Web Design Open Source Emerging Technology Software Development Java

Each meetup has been clustered by topic. Meetups with similar topics are attracted, whilst meetups with different subjects are repelled.

The size of each node is determined by the number of connections it has with others. A large node signifies a highly connected meetup with many topics shared with other groups.

What do the colours on the network mean?

Colours represent different meetup topics.

The largest group is the pink Open Source cluster at 24% of meetups in the network. It includes Linux and System Administration.

Second is Software Development in green, at 20.75% which includes ways of working, such as Scrum, Agile, and holistically – Project Management.

Third is Web Design – forming 17% of the map, and coloured blue. Topics to describe these groups include CSS, UX Design, and Product Design.

Fourth is Emerging Technology, in black at 16%. Some of these new technologies include virtual currencies, mobile technology, and regtech.

Fifth, in orange, is Artificial Intelligence – at 16%. This includes themes like big data and robotics, as well as the tools that enable this science to be conducted, like Python and Hadoop.

Finally, the purple cluster relates to Java, at 4% this is the smallest cluster and includes a diverse range of programming languages alongside JavaScript, from PHP to Ruby.

Probing the dynamics of local meetups, alongside data from the activities of these groups at the national level, help us develop a nuanced view of tech activity across the country and anticipate the buzz around emerging areas of interest.

Explore meetup networks in your cluster by clicking on Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle and Reading.

UK software developers are highly collaborative

What language do you code in? Explore the top languages, toggle through labels and drag a box over the chart to zoom in. 

Top programming languages used on Github

Source: Tech Nation, 2018; Github, 2018

Notes: This chart uses data on the repos of top UK users, and to identify developers’ main programming languages based on the distribution of lines of code they have contributed.

Software innovation is critical to the success of the UK digital tech sector, yet how developers collaborate is seldom captured. We examined the language of online collaborations, as well as the activities of Github super users, to create a clearer picture of this community. We found that the top three languages among users, are JavaScript, Python and PHP.

The connections that users make on Github are best illustrated through the code that they co-create. As a project is developed, Github stores and manages the revisions that people make to projects.

For productive connections to be forged, collaborators must be able to communicate effectively. In the case of development, this is not necessarily a question of speaking the same language, but of coding in the same language.

GitHub opens up a new world of collaboration. No longer are developers confined to working with people who talk or write the same old world languages. JavaScript and Python are the new lingua franca – everyone can be involved. Tech communities are capitalising on this opportunity, riding this global wave of open, inclusive innovation.

Data partners

Eventbrite is a digital catalogue of events covering business and consumer themes, hosting more than three million events on its platform each year. We collected data on 1,065 tech events listed on Eventbrite.
We analysed data on 52,000 UK GitHub users to capture online collaboration. Users work together on the development of websites and software by sharing and co-creating code.
Using data from Meetup.com we analysed 3,527 UK tech groups with over 1.6 million members in 283 different cities across the UK, Ireland and the Isle of Man. These meetups are highly accessible – 91% of UK groups are open for all to attend.

Tech Nation 2018 is now open!

Great news. All data featured in the 2018 Tech Nation Report is available online for non-commercial use by third parties.  The data can be accessed through the data.world platform. If you use the data, please let us know. We would love to showcase your work.

If you'd like know why we are doing this, check out our blog.

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