So after a dramatic general election in the UK we have a new Conservative government winning a majority that nobody could have predicted. I will dispense with the broader political analysis.
What does this mean for London Tech City? A few things to take away…
David Cameron will govern without the need for a coalition allowing the Tories to implement their manifesto in full. So what exactly does their manifesto say for the digital economy? Well quite frankly, not much. Fisherman and farmers: they’ve got paragraph or two. Tech entrepreneurs however, despite having created hundreds of thousands jobs over the past five years, have, surprisingly, nothing. No pledges, no promises. Hopefully that could turn out to be a blessing, and the current structures may remain the same. Cameron and Osbourne have always championed the success of the UK’s tech industries and so we can hope that this will naturally continue throughout the next parliament.
The EU referendum... Unfortunately, Mr. Cameron is now committed to a referendum on EU membership sometime in 2016/17. This creates a period of uncertainty for all business, but a major issue for Tech City. London is a magnet for the global tech industry, a magnet that depends not only on British talent, but that of European, and of those from around the globe. The Tories are generally held to be the most pro-business, it would seem that the existing SEIS/ EIS/ Non-Dom system will remain. However, this government appears determined to use a heavy handed approach to immigration control, significantly affecting our talent pool.
Last week Michel VanHoonacker of the Belgium-Luxembourg-UK Chamber of Commerce introduced me to three awesome start-ups: Jackopaw, Individuum and Hyghlyne. All born in their home countries of Luxembourg and Belgium, but now based in London; they may have had traction in their original markets, but have come to London to truly realise their potential. The huge, competitive environment is helping to prove their business models and raise finance. These are the people at the heart of Tech City, contributing so much to the London tech eco system. If other entrepreneurs choose not to cross the channel because of a possible Brexit, London loses.
By Ashok Parekh, Director of Investment Services