Tech City UK, a taxpayer-funded quango tasked with promoting the UK tech sector, spent £452,446 on communications in two years, according to Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey.
The agency, launched in 2010 by Prime Minister David Cameron, has received £10,823,000 from The Department of Culture, Media and Sport since 2014.
The figures were released following a written question from Labour MP David Lammy to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport on Parliament.uk. Lammy asked Vaizey how much Tech City UK has spent on communications during the last three years. He also asked about the agency’s total operations budget over the same time frame.
Vaizey replied: “Tech City UK (including Tech North) total operations budget was £2,500,000 in 2014-15; £4,223,000 in 2015-16; and £4,100,000 in 2016-17.
“Tech City UK (including Tech North) communications costs were £173,091 in 2014-15; £279,355 in 2015-16; and £5,000 in 2016-17 (YTD). These costs were all expenditure on third party communications, consultancy and public relations agencies.
“Tech North’s communication costs were nil in 2014-15 and 2016-17 (YTD), and £74,500 in 2015-16. These costs were all expenditure on third party communications, consultancy and public relations agencies.”
Tech City UK, which in many ways is a marketing agency itself, has spent money on PR firms like Blue Rubicon, whose clients include Facebook and eBay, and Seven Hills Communications, who works with the likes of The London Stock Exchange and Grant Thornton.
The quango, which has undoubtedly helped to raise the profile of the overall London tech scene, has received its fair share of criticism since it was created.
Tech City UK recently took the decision to bring its communications efforts in-house. It is expected to appoint a new comms person in the next few weeks and is currently relying on a single freelancer.
“We’re in a dialogue at the moment about the next iteration of Tech City and thinking about what the next step should be,” Vaizey told Business Insider.
Tech City UK CEO Gerard Grech was not immediately available for comment.