Tuesday 6 December 2016 2:30 pm

UK tech is putting its top post-Brexit demands to government


I'm City A.M.'s award-winning technology editor, covering everything from happenings at Apple and Google to the latest London startup. In particular fintech, blockchain, artifical intelligence, driverless cars, virtual reality and the sharing economy get me out of bed in the morning. I'm always trying to illustrate stories with pictures of dogs. Sometimes with some success. I was named technology journalist of the year at the UK Tech Awards.

I'm City A.M.'s award-winning technology editor, covering everything from happenings at Apple and Google to the latest London startup. In particular fintech, blockchain, artifical intelligence, driverless cars, virtual reality and the sharing economy get me out of bed in the morning. I'm always trying to illustrate stories with pictures of dogs. Sometimes with some success. I was named technology journalist of the year at the UK Tech Awards.

Keeping the country's emerging tech talent in the UK and guaranteeing to fill any startup funding shortfall from Europe are just two of the measures being demanded from government by a group of top entrepreneurs and investors after the vote to leave the EU.

Brent Hoberman, the entrepreneur behind Lastminute.com, Made.com and Founders Fund, Betfair founder Edward Wray, and Kathryn Parsons, the co-founder and boss of Decoded are among the names calling on the government to take specific actions to ensure the UK remains a world leader in tech.

Read more: How tech startups and investors really feel about Brexit

The group are demanding the creation of a "STEM passport", a visa for those studying science, technology and engineering to remain in the country after graduating for work while asking for assurances that those from abroad already working in the UK are allowed to stay.

It is also calling on the government to ensure that any shortfall in funding for startups from Europe via the European Investment Fund (EIF) is made up my the British Business Bank and for R&D tax credits reform, in the latest efforts by those in the UK tech sector to impress its importance upon those in power. 

Also putting their name to the list of measures which have been presented to Prime Minister Theresa May in a letter, are top venture capital investors, including Balderton Capital's Bernard Liautaud, Atomico's Niklas Zennstrom and Accel Partner's Sonali De Rycker. Rounding out the leaders is Innocent Drinks co-founder Richard Reed, Omega Logic co-founder Dale Murray, along with entrepreneur and investor Sherry Coutu.

They have also recommended a new campaign to promote the country's tech credentials to the rest of the world, taking inspiration from the Mayor of London with a "Tech Britain is Open" slogan.

Read more: The London mayor's ploughed £2.5m into startups since Brexit

"For the future of our next generation and the benefit of the UK, we hope you will take urgent action on our points highlighted above," they said.

The 10 top tech leaders urged the government to make "a clear statement on the issues" that "would do much to ensure the tech sector isn’t damaged by recent rhetoric".


Hoberman conceded that it was unlikely that the UK's tech industry would achieve all the goals outlined, but expressed some confidence that the government was open to listening to their concerns. "It's not shut," he told City A.M., adding that digital minister Matt Hancock is "absolutely [focused] on a lot of the right things".

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