Tech Nation’s CEO, Gerard Grech says both government and businesses need to grow their vision.
Tech Nation’s story began in Shoreditch in East London in 2011, launched by David Cameron, then prime minister. The idea was to support the tech cluster known as London Tech City or Silicon roundabout. Since then it has spread to other parts of the UK setting up Tech North. It has now become Tech Nation, consolidating Tech City UK and Tech North’s impact.
Now Tech Nation says that whilst Brexit “poses challenges” in attracting international talent, it can still “provide opportunities” for the tech sector. And has called on the government to launch a new national investment fund.
Gerard Grech says:
“With Brexit coming there is no doubt that there is going to be competition for talent. It is going to be fierce with America and China, for instance. But we have to succeed in a global industry, and London, in particular, is currently a top three hub in the world. So we have to look out for companies that may think about moving from London or being located between London and other international cities. This will raise the game, which is good for everybody.”
There is a positive future for London., believes Grech. The tech sector has seen remarkable growth. It has attracted more funding from investors that anywhere else in Europe, £6.3bn.
“London continues to be a magnet for attracting the best and the brightest, and so far we have not seen any decrease, in fact, we’ve seen an increase in applications from around the world for our visa scheme.”
“This is largely due to the seed investment enterprise in 2010, and Tech Nation visa scheme in 2014, as well as tax credits which allowed the government to invest more money in innovations to develop more products and ways of working.”
He suggests the government creates a national investment fund to potentially replace the role that the European investment fund has for start-ups and growth capital.
He also supports the removal of a cap on skilled workers earning more than £30,000 in the government’s white paper on immigration.
“I think that’s a positive move. It sends a positive message across the world that we are open for business and talent, and have a drive to do well,” he says.
“When you have an industry that is growing at almost three times than the wider economy you are going to have big demand on skills. The question is whether the demand is being fulfilled. I don’t think it is at the moment, and that will continue being the case as the tech industry gets bigger and bigger. Things are growing so quickly, and institutions need to do everything they can to keep up.
“The UK needs to be attracting founders that have visions to change the world around them, creating jobs both here and abroad.”
Tech Nation’s recent report ‘Diversity in Tech’ showed that 18 percent of tech directors are of non-British nationality, compared to 13 percent in all other sectors, and 13.8 percent in the UK population as a whole.
It also revealed that companies with internationally diverse boards raise 453 percent more investment than boards from a single country.
“The uncertainty of Brexit is worrying, but it’s all about the psychology of the country in how it approaches that issue. We need to make the most of it,” he says. “Entrepreneurs are used to facing challenges, and this is just another one.”