Startups Weekly Round Up – 13 February

Sunak sets up a new Science and Tech Department, embarrassing moment for Bard, and salaries at their lowest since 2019

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Welcome to Startups’ Weekly Round Up, where we bring you the latest headlines to keep you in the SME loop.

The highlights this week:

  • The government has announced the creation of the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT)
  • Bard, Google’s response to ChatGPT, cost its parent company £82.7bn after giving an incorrect answer in an official advert
  • Meanwhile, ChatGPT owner OpenAI breaks into top 50 global sites as visits hit 672 million since December
  • Average permanent salaries across the UK fell in January, reaching the lowest level since May 2019

Stats to Start Up your week

11 Downing Street and the UK Economy – What should startups know?

📉 We know the recession will be shorter than expected, but how do small businesses feel?44% of employees are worried about job security as the prospect of a recession in the UK looms closer. The highest spike in job anxiety affects those aged 25 to 34. Plus, stats reveal over a third (35%) of the UK’s small businesses are cautious to hire new staff or contractors due to recession fears. Interestingly,, sales, media, and marketing industries are the least cautious, hinting that they might be best positioned to weather the economic storm.

👵 Leaving ageism at the interview door → in a recent speech, UK chancellor Jeremy Hunt, stated that 6.6 million people are economically inactive in the UK, with one million aged between 50 and 64. The key to successfully challenging labour shortages and the frosty economic climate could be to accommodate more seats in your office to those aged over 50. Liam McNeil, Vice President EMEA at UKG said, “Business leaders must assess their current workforce – which are largely Gen Z, Millennials, and Gen X – and look to empower employees and managers as part of their retention strategies.”

💵 Shrinking salaries → average permanent salaries across the UK fell in January, reaching their lowest level since May 2019. This comes amidst a very gloomy economy where the cost-of-living crisis dominates the worries of entrepreneurs. According to the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo), average permanent salaries are down 3% year-on-year in January and -5% between November 2022 and January 2023. Year-on-year, permanent jobs fell 19%.

What does the DSIT spell for startups?

The UK government announced the formation of the new Department for Science, Innovation and Technology on 7 February. Its aim is to drive innovation that will deliver improved public services, create new and better-paid jobs and grow the economy. It is set to focus more political energy on young tech businesses, as the government pushes to fulfil Jeremy Hunt’s ambition to transform the UK into the next Silicon Valley.

To some entrepreneurs, this demonstration of goodwill towards startups is welcome. Kostas Koukoravas, CEO at Intelistyle, agrees, “Marrying together research and funding with policymaking sounds like a winning formula.” Although it is acknowledged that the changes will create some short term disruptions, Koukoravas continues, “I believe there are medium and long term benefits to having a well-resourced department with a seat at the cabinet to focus on innovation.”

The Whitehall reshuffle, however, has also been met with some scepticism. Andy Phillips, Head of Communications at PolyAI, is cautiously optimistic. “If they can deliver on the promises stated then this will have a tangible impact on our business, as well as the talent and funding that we attract as we grow,” but warned that, “empty, politically motivated rhetoric is not welcome.”

Overall, the reshuffle has the potential to spell good news for startups, but the precedent of cuts in R&D Tax Credits shows there’s still a gap of support that needs to be filled by the Sunak government.

That’s awkward – Bard’s slip up proves costly for Google

As the AI craze continues, Google has refused to be left behind and unveiled Bard, its very own answer to ChatGPT. However, upon providing an incorrect answer in an official advert, Bard cost its parent company a hefty £82.7bn in market value.

Where did it all go wrong? When responding to a question about NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, Bard wrongly stated that it was used to take the first pictures of a planet outside the Solar System. It was actually the Very Large Telescope in 2004 that took said pictures.

The incorrect answer has made its mark on Google’s Twitter page, which has been viewed more than 1.5 million times. In reaction to the slipup, Google has announced it will continue to conduct rigorous testing to optimise Bard’s performance. However, if anything, this shows we can put our guard down momentarily as AI is still nowhere near close to flipping the tech world and beyond upside down.

Funding opportunities

The TechMarketView Innovation Partner Programme (TIPP) has teamed up with Capita Scaling Partner (CSP) to find startup and scale up companies who are delivering game-changing solutions. The successful applicant company will join the CSP portfolio in an equity-for-services model, ensuring mutual success and business growth. Companies who have previously become part of the CSP portfolio have seen an average growth per annum of over 200%. You can find out more here.

Written by:
Fernanda is a Mexican-born Startups Writer. Specialising in the Marketing & Finding Customers pillar, she’s always on the lookout for how startups can leverage tools, software, and insights to help solidify their brand, retain clients, and find new areas for growth. Having grown up in Mexico City and Abu Dhabi, Fernanda is passionate about how businesses can adapt to new challenges in different economic environments to grow and find creative ways to engage with new and existing customers. With a background in journalism, politics, and international relations, Fernanda has written for a multitude of online magazines about topics ranging from Latin American politics to how businesses can retain staff during a recession. She is currently strengthening her journalistic muscle by studying for a part-time multimedia journalism degree from the National Council of Training for Journalists (NCTJ).

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