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Prime minister announces new visa for startups

The government promises new “startup” visa for entrepreneurs, a £2.5bn British Patient Capital fund to support UK companies going global, and plans for two international tech hubs

The government will launch a new startup visa for entrepreneurs in spring 2019, it has promised.

The visa replaces the current route, only available to graduates, and will be opened up to “talented business founders”, and accelerators will play a role in endorsing potential candidates for the visa.

The announcement, which was made as part of a London Tech Week roundtable hosted by prime minister Theresa May at 10 Downing Street on 13 June, is one of several new tech commitments made by the government.  

The government has also promised a £2.5bn British Patient Capital Programme, which aims to help successful UK businesses gain foothold abroad, and it is expected to attract another £5bn in investment from the private sector.  

The UK tech sector is growing more than two-and-a-half times faster than the overall economy. According to the Tech Nation report 2018, the sector is worth nearly £184bn to the economy, a rise from £170bn in 2016.

According to figures from Tech Nation, a new digital technology job is created in the UK every 50 minutes, and the sector employs 2.1 million people.

The prime minister said that the measures will “allow innovative British startups to invest in their future – and in the UK – by hiring more skilled people, expanding their business and exporting their expertise across the world”.

“It’s a great time to be in tech in the UK, and our modern Industrial Strategy will drive continued investment, ensuring the nation flourishes in the industries of the future and creating more high-paying jobs,” May said.

The government announced plans to open up “key parts” of the Ordnance Survey’s geospatial data for free to small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), to help boost competition.

It also plans on launching two new international tech hubs in Brazil and South Africa, aiming to build partnerships, develop skills and business networks.

International trade secretary Liam Fox said the UK is already a world-leading destination for tech investment.

“Our tech sector, with our strong legal system, skilled workforce and low taxation economy combine with our world-class universities to make us the most attractive home for investment in Europe,” he said.  

“As an international economic department, the Department for International Trade (DIT) will continue to encourage investment from overseas, with a further series of events to attract inward business.”

The government isn’t the only one promising new investment, with several of the tech companies attending the event also promising significant plans to increase jobs and productivity.

Salesforce have promised to invest £1.9bn in the UK over the next five years, including opening up a second UK datacentre in 2019. NTT data is investing £41m to open a new office and innovation centre, aiming to create 200 jobs, while Founders Forum has launched a startup competition across secondary schools and universities.  

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