It has been almost a year since I observed that the Brexit vote felt like a cloud hanging over a vibrant Tech Sector.
Fast forward to today and what has changed? Have the skies opened and put out the fire? Has London lost its place as the European Tech capital? I am proud to say neither has happened and in fact there is a light shining through the sector.
I was fortunate enough to be able to attend Tech London Advocates -Tech World Tour last month. This event epitomised the strength and resilience of the UK Tech Sector. There was a real belief throughout the conference that there were opportunities to be had in a Post Brexit – Britain. This optimism can be seen throughout the sector; quarter three reported an increase in funding at a record level in the UK. Tech EU reported that ‘the UK raised 2.15 Billion euros across 164 deals, holding its top spot for investment volume’. The Fin-tech industry continues to perform with companies like Monzo, Starling Bank and Cleo revolutionising the way we view and use our money. The Fintech industry in October had raised $1bn more in investment than they had in same period in 2016.
In his Budget The Chancellor announced a host of policies aimed at preserving the UK’s status within the Technology Industry. Policies included; £2.3bn of investment in R&D projects with an extension in tax credits as well as money to bring 5G mobile networks to the UK. Despite all this a cloud of uncertainty still hovers over the UK Tech sector.
Brexit raises many issues, the most important being how the sector will access skills. According to a survey by the Tech London Advocates, a third of entrepreneurs had lost prospective hires because of the uncertainties surrounding immigration. This number is far too high it’s a problem that must be addressed urgently. The government has tried to combat this by doubling the exceptional workers visas to 2000, but the truth is that the UK needs to be an open market to all talent, especially those of our closest neighbours. Investment in to encourage the young into tech is all well and good but the UK risk losing a generation of great tech innovators if the government fails to resolve the problem of workforce.
However what I have learnt over the year is that Brexit or no Brexit, there is real determination to find a way. Tom Blomfield, founder of the UK number one Startup Monzo, according to LinkedIn, joked at a Startup Grind event about moving offices to Ireland, but he also made it clear the UK was still the most attractive place to be. You just have to look around the country and you see Tech Hubs springing up throughout the UK including Norwich, Edinburgh, Belfast and Croydon. The UK is not planning to give up its top spot easily and it is this fight and determination which gives me hope that the UK Tech Sector will continue to prosper in a post Brexit Britain.