Tech investors sound alarm over five ‘urgent issues’ choking UK innovation
A group of top tech investors and entrepreneurs have piled pressure on the newly appointed science and tech minister to address “urgent issues” choking off growth in the UK’s innovation sectors.
In a letter seen by City A.M., 26 tech figures including professor Dylan Jones-Evans, founder of the Fast Growth 50; Seb Wallace, investment chief of venture capital firm Triple Point; and Roderick Beer, boss of UK Business Angels Association, said they welcomed the creation of a new department for science innovation, innovation and technology but the potential of the sector was currently being restricted.
The bosses have now called for newly-appointed secretary of state Michelle Donelan to address five key issues facing the sectors, including providing support to so-called university ‘spin-outs’ and allowing locked up pension cash to flow into start-ups via venture capital firms.
“For DSIT to deliver on [the potential of the UK’s innovation sectors], five urgent issues must be addressed as a priority,” the letter said. “Ignoring these issues will not only result in irrelevance for the department at a time when it should be playing a key role in our economic recovery, but also represent a failure of the innovators it is supposed to support.”
Creating “innovation hubs” outside of the “golden triangle” of London, Oxford and Cambridge would also be pivotal to delivering on any promise of creating the “next Silicon Valley” in the UK, the firms said.
A robust intellectual property strategy and ensuring tech workers can access visas to the UK were also key issues facing the sector the said.
The continued flow of international tech talent into the UK has been thrown into doubt in recent weeks after the start-up group Tech Nation – which managed a growth visa programme for the home office – announced it would wind down after the government withdrew its funding.
A home office spokesperson failed to commit to the continuation of the programme when approached by City A.M. earlier this month.
“We will also take every available step to ensure that applicants already part of the Global Talent route are not disadvantaged by the closure, so the UK can continue to benefit from the brightest and best living and working here,” the spokesperson said.