The Government has laid out its plans to support the growth of UK tech start-ups. In response to a written parliamentary question, DCMS Minister, Margot James MP, stated that the Government’s ambition is to “ensure the UK is the best place in the world to start and grow a digital business.”
To fulfill this ambition, the Government is committed to:
- boosting spending on 5G digital connectivity;
- raising investment in research and development;
- investing in math, digital and technical education;
- a new £2.5 billion British Patient Capital programme;
- an additional 200m in funding to the British Business Bank for venture capital and growth finance if no deal is reached with the European Investment Bank prior to EU Exit;
- doubling the number of Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visas to 2,000;
- the launch of a new Start-Up visa for entrepreneurs; and,
- an additional £21 million to expand Tech City UK into a nationwide network.
With these commitments, the UK Government is “confident the digital technology sector and its start-up community will continue to grow.”
Dr Richard Wilson OBE, TIGA CEO said:
“TIGA welcomes the Government’s commitment to supporting the UK’s digital technology start-up community. The UK is a world leader in tech industries and we expect this success to be replicated over the coming years.
“However, more can be done to support start-ups in the UK video games industry. As well as enhancing Video Games Tax Relief, TIGA proposes the introduction of a Games Investment Fund, making grants or loans of between £75,000 and £500,000 available to games businesses on a matched funding basis.
“In addition to finance, access to talent is essential for growing start-ups. 15 per cent of the UK video games industry’s workforce comes from the EU and a further 5 per cent from the rest of the world. Following Brexit, the UK needs a flexible migration regime that allows businesses to recruit the best and brightest talent – wherever they are from.”
The full written question can be found below:
Technology: New Businesses
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
13 February 2019
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps the Government is taking to support tech start-ups.
Margot James: We are confident the digital technology sector and its start-up community will continue to grow from strength to strength. As outlined in our Digital Strategy and Charter, our ambition is to ensure the UK is the best place in the world to start and grow a digital business.
A significant part of achieving this is ensuring the wider ecosystem has the correct infrastructure for businesses to thrive. That is why the Industrial Strategy included commitments to boost spending on 5G digital connectivity right across the UK, raising investment in research and development, and improving skills by investing in maths, digital and technical education. DCMS’ Cyber Security team also supports and delivers programmes that accelerate and innovate cyber start-ups, including the NCSC Cyber Accelerator programme, and through the LORCA project – a vital step to ensure citizens and businesses can continue to operate safely online, whilst supporting UK entrepreneurs.
We know primary barriers to growth for start-ups are having adequate access to both finance and talent. That is why for finance, Government announced a new £2.5 billion British Patient Capital programme. This is expected to attract a further £5 billion in private investment, to support UK companies with high growth potential to access the long-term investment they need to grow and go global. In addition, if in the event that the Government cannot agree on a future relationship with the European Investment Bank prior to EU Exit, we will provide the British Business Bank with £200m of additional funding in venture capital and growth finance. This will provide start-ups across the country with the initial capital they need to start their business.
To continue to attract international talent, we have doubled the number of Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visas to 2,000. Doctors and nurses have been taken out of the Tier 2 visa cap, freeing up many more skilled worker visas to other sectors, including tech. 2019 will also see the launch of a new Start-Up visa for entrepreneurs, which will replace a route exclusively for graduates, opening it up to other talented business founders.
In the Autumn Budget 2017 we announced investment of £21 million to expand Tech City UK into a nationwide network – Tech Nation – aimed at accelerating the growth of the digital tech sector across the country. The funding will help Tech Nation support 40,000 entrepreneurs and up to 4,000 start-ups as they scale their businesses across the UK including Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, and Newcastle.