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UK’s top tech start-ups urge government to consider access to tech talent after Brexit

The letter explains why tech companies must be able to continue to recruit skilled workers from around the world

Last week, CityAM featured a letter signed by almost 50 tech entrepreneurs, urging the government to consider how Brexit will affect tech talent coming into the UK. Founders and tech employees are concerned that Brexit will hamper their ability to hire international talented tech workers and will deter the brightest and best from wanting to come to join or set up businesses in the UK.

Dear Editor,

Britain’s digital industries are expanding at an extraordinary pace, creating jobs and contributing some £161bn in turnover to the economy.

Companies like Just Eat, Mimecast, Shazam, Skyscanner, Mimecast and Zoopla have become household names in a relatively short time and are providing high-value jobs across the country in ways that could not have been predicted 10 years ago. No industry is escaping the impact of technology. Tech innovation has ushered in new energy providers, more efficient banking and investment companies; cheaper travel; accessible education and more.

From healthcare to investment broking tech cuts across virtually every part of our economy. Some 41 per cent of the 1.56m digital tech economy jobs in the UK are now within traditional non-digital industries, such as education and financial services. Between 2010 and 2014 the gross value added of the digital sector grew by 27 per cent, almost three times faster than the rest of economy.

The UK has become the number one spot in Europe for tech startups, with 40 per cent of all European Tech unicorns ($1bn+ valued tech businesses) based here. The sector is creating jobs almost three times faster than the wider economy. But the sector’s fast rate of growth and the limited supply of specialist skills (at least in the short-term) means that hiring international talent is essential for growth.

If tech communities were no longer able to recruit workers from the 27 EU countries, or from other states, many businesses would see their growth slow down. Government measures in recent years to encourage founders and entrepreneurs to invest in the UK would be wasted.

In the regions, the tech sector is an important source of economic growth, with 52,000 employed in the sector in Manchester and 37,000 in Birmingham. Vibrant tech hubs exist in Newcastle, Sheffield, Bristol and Brighton. Britain is uniquely placed to dominate some of the fastest growing tech sectors – fintech, EdTech, gaming and HealthTech.

While efforts to build up Britain’s skills base are happening – coding in schools, apprenticeships, tech companies working more closely with universities – company founders must, in the meantime, compete in a global race for talent.

As members of Tech City’s Future Fifty tech programme, which helps some of the UK’s fastest-growing digital companies to scale up, we want to build businesses in an economy that is outward-looking and dynamic. With Brexit, must come great opportunities, but we must be careful to avoid potential pitfalls.

As tech company founders we want to work with government to find solutions to the digital industries’ need for international talent. Only with a steady flow of international and home-grown talent, British tech can continue to compete on the world’s stage.

Respectfully yours,

  1. ​Theo Duchen, Co-CEO, Acturis
  2. Doug Monro, Co-Founder, Adzuna
  3. Stu Taylor, CEO & Co-Founder, Algomi
  4. Julien Hammerson, CEO, Calastone
  5. Darren Westlake, CEO, Crowdcube
  6. Dan Warne, MD UK & IE, Deliveroo
  7. Paul Chrimes, MD – Operations, eToro UK
  8. Andrew White, Founder & CEO, FundApps
  9. James Meekings, UK Managing Director and Co-Founder, Funding Circle
  10. Samir Desai, CEO and Co-Founder, Funding Circle
  11. Paul Sulyok, Founder and CEO, Green Man Gaming
  12. Andrew Pinnington, CEO, Hailo
  13. George Hadjigeorgiou, Former CEO, Housetrip
  14. Alastair Mitchell, President, CMO & Co-founder, Huddle
  15. James Dear, CTO and Co-Founder, iwoca
  16. Christoph Rieche, CEO, iwoca
  17. Asi Sharabi, CEO, Lost My Name
  18. Tal Oron, Founder, Lost My Name
  19. Mark Beilby, Chairman, Lumi
  20. Richard Taylor, CEO, Lumi
  21. Chris Morton, Founder and CEO, Lyst
  22. Ning Li, Founder and CEO, MADE.com
  23. Andrew Bucher, Co-Founder & Veterinary Director, MedicAnimal
  24. Ivan Retzignac, Founder and CEO, MedicAnimal
  25. Peter Bauer, CEO, Mimecast
  26. Michael Acton-Smith, Chairman, Mind Candy
  27. Ian Shaw, CEO, MWR Info Security
  28. Kevin Cornils, CEO, My Optique
  29. Andrew Taylor, Group CEO, Nomad Digital
  30. Demetrios Zoppos, Co-founder, OneFineStay
  31. Graham Cooke, CEO & Co-founder, Qubit
  32. Rhydian Lewis, CEO & Co-founder, RateSetter
  33. James Booth, CEO & Co-founder, Scoota
  34. Torie Chilcott, Co-founder, Scoota
  35. Tom Valentine, Chief Operating Officer & Co-Founder, Secret Escapes
  36. Andrew Fisher, Executive Chairman, Shazam
  37. Nick Day, CEO, Small World F.S.
  38. John Earner, CEO & Founder, Space Ape Games
  39. Thibault Hanin, Co-Founder & CTO, Synthesio
  40. Aldo Monteforte, CEO, The Floow
  41. Sarah Wood, Founder, Unruly
  42. Oliver Smith, Managing Director, EMEA, Unruly
  43. Ross Williams, Founder and Chairman, Venntro Media Group Limited
  44. Joe Murray, Co-CEO, Worldstores
  45. Jay Radia, CEO, Yieldify
  46. Alex Chesterman OBE, Founder & CEO, Zoopla Property Group
  47. Giles Andrews, Chair and Co-founder, Zopa

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