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UK government says it’s on the path to creating a tech giant to rival Google or Facebook

David Reid

The U.K.'s top policymakers have said they want to produce tech companies to rival Silicon Valley giants such as Google or Facebook.

On Wednesday, it announced that technology firms are to invest nearly £2.3 billion ($3 billion) into the country, creating an estimated 1,600 new jobs. The cash injection, the bulk of which came from cloud computing company Salesforce, was unveiled to coincide with a tech roundtable event, hosted by Prime Minister Theresa May.

Speaking after the event, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Matt Hancock told CNBC there was huge ambition for the U.K. tech scene.

"One of the things we were hearing at the roundtable from the entrepreneurs was optimism that the U.K., post-Brexit, can be a home for global companies of a scale that we see coming out of China and the US because we've got the eco system," he told CNBC's Steve Sedgwick Wednesday.

London remains Europe's top hub for tech investment despite Brexit uncertainty, and in 2017 U.K. tech firms took in almost four times more funding than Germany, and more than Sweden, France and Italy combined, according to London & Partners, the Mayor of London's official promotional agency. Some 2.1 million people are now employed in the country's digital tech economy.

Hancock highlighted the creation and growth of companies such as chipmaker ARM and logistics company Ocado that was allowing the U.K. to attract tech talent.

"A couple of years ago ARM sold for £24 billion. That was injection of £24 billion into the eco system. Ocado is a 10 billion company, it is the biggest competitor in the world to Amazon in that particular space," the minister claimed.

Hancock added that the U.K. now had way more unicorns (privately held start-up companies valued at over $1 billion) than any other country in Europe.

"I think it is down to the depth of the ecosystem and the fact that we have many different industries here in the U.K. For example, fintech (financial technology) has done well because we have both the international financial center of the world and a great tech scene literally side-by-side," the minister said.