South African insurance giant MMI Holdings announces major investment in newly-acquired UK business

One of the largest financial services groups in South Africa has become the latest in a string of major international businesses to announce investment in Bristol and Bath’s globally-significant, fast-growing tech hub.

Prime Minister David Cameron made the announcement at the UK Investment Summit in Wales as part of a wider speech. MMI Holdings, which acquired Bristol-based ‘fintech’ business Blue Speck Financial earlier this year, plans to open a new 120-person facility in the city. The company expects to have created around 100 new jobs in Bristol by 2017.

The news comes hot on the heels of a series of announcements by global business players investing in the Bristol and Bath region’s tech cluster, the only UK tech cluster outside London to be named ‘internationally-significant’ and ‘high-growth’ in a recent Centre for Cities/McKinsey & Co report.

Bristol-based tech firm SecondSync was snapped up by social media giant Twitter in a deal earlier this year, while Somerset-based solar-powered drone maker Ascenta was acquired by Facebook. Meanwhile, big names from the tech world such as Somo, the world’s largest independent mobile solutions company, Huawei, the Chinese telecoms giant, and JUST EAT, the leading online takeaway service, have set up new bases in Bristol this year.

Toby Hughes, CEO of Blue Speck Financial, said: “Bristol has two great universities, strong creative, tech and financial services industries, and good links to London. Incubators such as SETsquared, voted one of the three best in the world, make Bristol a great place to accelerate a tech-focussed business. There’s a wealth of talent in Bristol and it’s one of the best cities in the UK for a work-life balance.”

Matthew Cross, head of inward investment at Invest Bristol & Bath, the inward investment agency for the region, said: “Bristol and Bath’s tech cluster is a highly attractive investment proposition for global businesses seeking to set up a base in a fast-growing hub of technological innovation with internationally-recognised credentials and an exceptionally collaborative community of businesses across interlinked sectors.  Companies are also keen to benefit from Bristol and Bath’s strong and well-established skills base- which has developed off the back of a rich heritage in engineering and the presence of leading universities in the region – not forgetting the area’s excellent transport links and the fantastic quality of life that it has to offer.”

Mr Cross added: “In addition, the region is also attracting significant interest as a result of being the source of a plethora of home-grown start-ups and SMEs that are making major advancements in the creative, digital and high tech sectors. It is testament to the quality of the tech sector in Bristol and Bath that global players such as MMI Holdingsi are investing in not only acquiring businesses here, but growing them in situ.”

Invest Bristol & Bath has helped to create more than 1,200 jobs in the West of England region since its inception in January 2013, new figures showed recently, boosted significantly by increasing interest from major tech firms in investing in the area.

Other investment projects to have been secured in the West of England region recently include: Kainos, the specialist independent software company from Belfast, which has opened an office in Bristol city centre; and Sanoh, the international automotive industry manufacturer originating from Asia, which has opened a new site in Bristol.