Letter: Entrepreneurs urge government to consider access to tech talent after Brexit

Lynsey Barber
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Nearly 50 entrepreneurs have signed an open letter (Source: Getty)

Entrepreneurs at the UK's fastest growing startups have signed an open letter urging government to consider the tech industry's need to access international talent in the wake of Brexit.

Dear Editor,

Britain’s digital industries are expanding at an extraordinary pace, creating jobs and contributing some £161bn in turnover to the economy.

Companies like Just Eat, Mimecast, Shazam, Skyscanner, Mimecast and Zoopla have become household names in a relatively short time and are providing high-value jobs across the country in ways that could not have been predicted 10 years ago. No industry is escaping the impact of technology. Tech innovation has ushered in new energy providers, more efficient banking and investment companies; cheaper travel; accessible education and more.

From healthcare to investment broking tech cuts across virtually every part of our economy. Some 41 per cent of the 1.56m digital tech economy jobs in the UK are now within traditional non-digital industries, such as education and financial services. Between 2010 and 2014 the gross value added of the digital sector grew by 27 per cent, almost three times faster than the rest of economy.

The UK has become the number one spot in Europe for tech startups, with 40 per cent of all European Tech unicorns ($1bn+ valued tech businesses) based here. The sector is creating jobs almost three times faster than the wider economy. But the sector’s fast rate of growth and the limited supply of specialist skills (at least in the short-term) means that hiring international talent is essential for growth.

If tech communities were no longer able to recruit workers from the 27 EU countries, or from other states, many businesses would see their growth slow down. Government measures in recent years to encourage founders and entrepreneurs to invest in the UK would be wasted.

In the regions, the tech sector is an important source of economic growth, with 52,000 employed in the sector in Manchester and 37,000 in Birmingham. Vibrant tech hubs exist in Newcastle, Sheffield, Bristol and Brighton. Britain is uniquely placed to dominate some of the fastest growing tech sectors – fintech, EdTech, gaming and HealthTech.

While efforts to build up Britain’s skills base are happening - coding in schools, apprenticeships, tech companies working more closely with universities - company founders must, in the meantime, compete in a global race for talent.

As members of Tech City's Future Fifty tech programme, which helps some of the UK’s fastest-growing digital companies to scale up, we want to build businesses in an economy that is outward-looking and dynamic. With Brexit, must come great opportunities, but we must be careful to avoid potential pitfalls.

As tech company founders we want to work with government to find solutions to the digital industries’ need for international talent. Only with a steady flow of international and home-grown talent, British tech can continue to compete on the world’s stage.

Respectfully yours,

‚ÄčTheo Duchen, Co-CEO, Acturis

Doug Monro, Co-Founder, Adzuna

Stu Taylor, CEO & Co-Founder, Algomi

Julien Hammerson, CEO, Calastone

Darren Westlake, CEO, Crowdcube

Dan Warne, MD UK & IE, Deliveroo

Paul Chrimes, MD - Operations, eToro UK

Andrew White, Founder & CEO, FundApps

James Meekings, UK Managing Director and Co-Founder, Funding Circle

Samir Desai, CEO and Co-Founder, Funding Circle

Paul Sulyok, Founder and CEO, Green Man Gaming

Andrew Pinnington, CEO, Hailo

George Hadjigeorgiou, Former CEO , Housetrip

Alastair Mitchell, President, CMO & Co-founder, Huddle

James Dear, CTO and Co-Founder, iwoca

Christoph Rieche, CEO, iwoca

Asi Sharabi, CEO, Lost My Name

Tal Oron, Founder, Lost My Name

Mark Beilby, Chairman, Lumi

Richard Taylor, CEO, Lumi

Chris Morton, Founder and CEO, Lyst

Ning Li, Founder and CEO, MADE.com

Andrew Bucher, Co-Founder & Veterinary Director, MedicAnimal

Ivan Retzignac, Founder and CEO, MedicAnimal

Peter Bauer, CEO, Mimecast

Michael Acton-Smith, Chairman, Mind Candy

Ian Shaw, CEO, MWR Info Security

Kevin Cornils, CEO, My Optique

Andrew Taylor, Group CEO, Nomad Digital

Demetrios Zoppos, Co-founder, OneFineStay

Graham Cooke, CEO & Co-founder, Qubit

Rhydian Lewis, CEO & Co-founder, RateSetter

James Booth, CEO & Co-founder, Scoota

Torie Chilcott, Co-founder, Scoota

Tom Valentine, Chief Operating Officer & Co-Founder, Secret Escapes

Andrew Fisher, Executive Chairman, Shazam

Nick Day, CEO, Small World F.S.

John Earner, CEO & Founder, Space Ape Games

Thibault Hanin, Co-Founder & CTO, Synthesio

Aldo Monteforte, CEO, The Floow

Sarah Wood, Founder, Unruly

Oliver Smith, Managing Director, EMEA, Unruly

Ross Williams, Founder and Chairman, Venntro Media Group Limited

Joe Murray, Co-CEO, Worldstores

Jay Radia, CEO, Yieldify

Alex Chesterman OBE, Founder & CEO, Zoopla Property Group

Giles Andrews, Chair and Co-founder, Zopa

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