The Startup Manifesto: Why the digital economy has never been a bigger political issue

 
Guy Levin
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The government has already put cash into Silicon Roundabout, but more needs to be done
The UK’s digital startups are thriving – we have the fastest-growing digital economy in the G20 and have created 11 tech companies worth over $1bn in the last decade. British digital successes like Zoopla, Shazam and YPlan are now household names, and in London alone the tech sector is forecast to create 46,000 jobs and contribute £12 billion to our economy by 2024.
So why do we need more political support for them?
The answer is we need to build on this success. When you think about what Britain will be good at in the future, it’s clear supporting startups makes sense. We compete with countries around the world to attract the best entrepreneurs, and others are trying to catch up - just look at Chile, now offering entrepreneurs $40,000, free office space and visas for the team.
As Saul Klein, Partner at Index Ventures said: “As a country we’re ahead of most other nations, but we can’t stand still”.
It’s also clear that whoever forms the next government will have to grapple with some serious digital policy issues. From the rise of wearable tech and the Internet of Things to autonomous vehicles and advanced AI, we’re only at the start of the digital revolution and the next government will have to move fast to keep up.
That’s why today Coadec has published The Startup Manifesto, backed by over 175 of Britain’s leading startups and investors, including the founders of King,TransferWise, SwiftKey, and MOO.
We set out 24 ways the next government can make the UK lead the world on digital innovation. With 9 months to go until the general election, and as all the parties are considering what to put in their manifestos, now is the time to make the case for policies to support digital innovation.
The manifesto includes issues like improving access to finance and investing in skills, as well as new ideas like tax reliefs for startups that help teach coding, and creating a legal framework for Bitcoin.
We also call for it to become government policy to support disruptive innovation rather than using regulations to protect incumbent industries. At the same time we want the government to promise to support those negatively affected by disruption – for example retraining those made redundant by technology.
Technology is affecting all aspects of our lives, and the amazing thing is that this change is largely being driven by the little guy – startups that begin in a bedroom or garage are growing into giants that have an impact on all our lives. This stuff matters. That’s why we want all MPs to take a look at the manifesto and adopt its ideas.

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