Yesterday, the PM outlined 12 objectives sought from a proposed “hard Brexit”. Of particular interest to Britain’s science and tech community was point 10 – keep the UK the best place for science and innovation. Mrs May rightly stated that as a nation we have a proud history of leading and supporting cutting edge innovation, however, conversations here in Davos have only underlined that with Brexit and the continued uncertainty around the shape it shall take we are increasingly putting at risk our reputation. There are three key things the Government needs to do to maintain this mantle.
The first: make it easier to attract, recruit and retain top talent. That means significantly expanding the fast track visa programmes and giving academic talent the possibility and comfort to choose Britain’s universities as their home for research ; The second: be sophisticated customers to UK-based tech companies and encourage businesses large and small to do likewise; and thirdly, continue incentivising seed investment with tax breaks and multiply the funds allocated to invest alongside the existing home venture industry and catalyse new home venture firms.
I don’t believe that the statements from the government have yet been sufficient for firms to confidently invest in UK tech. And probably this will not be enough, EU funding for U.K.-based funds will most likely be withheld in the upcoming negotiations The PM must now look to provide clarity in the coming weeks on how this objective, along with the other eleven, will be achieved.