Government announces £2.3bn fund, new jobs and visa scheme to boost UK tech scene

Good news for the UK’s tech industry – as the Prime Minister announces private and government backed funding boosts and a new specialised visa scheme to attract tech talent.

Speaking at a meeting with tech leaders during London Tech Week, Theresa May said Britain will reap the benefits of a huge £2.3bn investment that could create 1,600 news tech jobs.

Public and private funding

The investment comes from US tech giants and venture capitalists such as cloud company Salesforce, which has pledged to invest £1.9bn in the UK over the next five years. Alongside the investment, the company is opening its second UK data centre in 2019 which could create 900 jobs. 

UAE investor, Mubadala, is also launching a £300m European investment fund based in the UK, whilst NTT data are investing £41m to open a new office and Innovation Centre in London. This should create up to 200 jobs over the next three years.  Simon Williams, CEO at NTT DATA UK, commented: “Coming in London Tech Week, the Department for International Trade’s announcement shines an important light on the UK technology sector and the incredible talent emerging across the industry.

“NTT DATA has a proud history of investment and innovation in the UK, which is one of the most competitive markets in the world; companies, like NTT DATA, recognise that by investing and succeeding in the UK, we are in a very strong position to succeed in other markets around the world,” he continued.

The government are also adding to the investment, with the announcement of the British Patient Capital Fund. This will consist of £2.5bn of government backing, with the hope of securing an additional £5bn of private investment in the coming years.

This fund should help high growth UK companies to expand globally.

Visa scheme 

Home Secretary Sajid Javid also shared some welcome news about Visas. Launching in Spring 2019, a new “Start-up Visa” will allow tech founders to use a visa route which is usually only exclusively available to university graduates. The Home Office said founders will have to get an endorsement from a university or a business sponsor before applying.

This should help ease the strain on Tier 2 visas for the UK; which are designed for skilled workers on higher salaries, but are currently oversubscribed.

Mrs May summarised the importance of the news: “The measures we are announcing today will allow innovative British start-ups to invest in their future – and in the UK – by hiring more skilled people, expanding their business and exporting their expertise across the world.”

Tech UK also told the BBC that this news indicates how the government wants the UK to be the leading country in Europe in attracting tech talent. TechUK’s deputy chief executive Antony Walker said: “The new start-up visas are a sensible move to encourage those with good ideas to come to the UK, however, start-ups are only one part of UK tech

“We understand that approximately 1,000 tech workers with job offers were refused visas between December 2017 and March 2018. This is a handbrake on economic growth and needs to be urgently addressed,” he countered.

Innovate Finance CEO Charlotte Crosswell was delighted: “Today’s announcement is further recognition that the UK’s digital economy, including sub-sectors such as FinTech, continue to provide an engine for growth and innovation,” she said/

Moreover, in providing a faster and smoother route to start a business in the UK, the startup visa seeks to directly address some of the key challenges currently facing entrepreneurs, as they navigate the UK’s immigration system. There is of course more to be done, especially around balancing a flexible immigration system post-Brexit, with the development of domestic skills and education – but this is a very welcome step in the right direction,” she added. 

This news accompanies new findings that the UK received more investment in tech companies than any other European country in the two years since the Brexit vote.