What might Brexit mean for our tech industry?

Getting an early handle on the implications of Brexit on the national and local tech sector...

Moyan Brenn

Following the result of the referendum last Friday, I’ve started to compile a list of resources related to the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union that will most likely impact our tech sector.

Some of these are specific to our sector, and some apply generally to business and investment. Obviously, this is not a comprehensive list, and I will add to it as the situation evolves.

This is also intended for dealing with the practicalities of Brexit – I am trying to avoid ideological commentaries, and I’d appreciate if value laden arguments were held to a minimum in the comments and in other conversations as well. Let’s concentrate on what is happening, and what is likely to happen.

Generally the concerns expressed in the articles listed below revolve around data compliance, investment and access to talent, however one aspect I think is going a bit under-reported is the UK’s access to the forthcoming European Digital Single Market, which I wrote about a while ago.

In terms of what Brexit means for the tech sector here in Sheffield, I think the main questions are:

  • The likely impact on European investment and research budgets, especially at our universities, and related questions such as what will happen to existing and prospective programmes that extend beyond the two year window triggered by Article 50. And to what extent the UK’s domestic research and innovation spending will increase to cover the shortfall in funds.
  • Whether Brexit will result in increased devolution and the current Combined Authority devo agreement will be renegotiated to enabled increased local control over expanded investment budgets that replace the loss of European funds. There are opportunities for the tech sector if this occurs, I think, as a) it’s likely that digital leadership and policy will be mandated as part of the new deal (which it wasn’t originally), and b) there will likely be increased attention on the tech sector as a means of pulling the region out of the inevitable economic slump as other sectors suffer the fallout.
  • Whether we can maintain a good environment for our tech companies that will dissuade them from moving operations to places like Dublin, Berlin or, if Scotland secedes, Edinburgh.
  • Whether we can make sufficient investment in digital skills to compensate for the likely loss of skilled talent and graduates that we may suffer, and how long will it take for the effects of that investment to trickle through to the businesses that need them.

Comments from a number of local city leaders can be found in this article from the Star: Politicians, business leaders and universities on ‘Brexit’.

Please let me know if you discover new, insightful articles as time goes on and I will update the list below; and comment below or on Twitter or Slack.

June 24th

What Brexit Means For Tech – David Meyer (@superglaze) – Fortune Magazine

How Brexit will impact the science and technology industry – Matt Burgess (@mattburgess1) – Wired Magazine

TIGA calls for government to reassure UK games industry – Dan Pearson (@danbojones) – GamesIndustry.Biz

June 26th

Hello, world. Britain has dared to dream and is open for business – Rohan Silva (@silva) – The Times

^ that article is behind a firewall, but was addressed on the Financial Times Alphaville blog which provides the gist of it:

Rohan Silva has no idea what he’s talking about – Kadhim Shubber (@kadhimshubber) – FT Alphaville

June 27th

Brexit and you: what’s next for digital laws? – Heather Burns (@WebDevLaw) – WebDevLaw Blog

A post-Brexit view of the UK tech sector – Adrian Drodz – Tech City News

June 28th

Strategic Technology: Brexit for Technologists – Fintan Ryan (@fintanr) – Red Monk

 

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