February 16, 2015
The Government has launched a scheme to attract US tech firms to set up or ramp up their businesses in the UK. The tech sector is already worth around £120 billion to the UK and the Government hopes the HQ-UK programme will offer investors a chance to tap into a well-established pool of talent and a business-friendly and low tax economy. The initiative is a joint venture between Tech City, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. HQ-UK will simplify and quicken processes for visa applications and setting up UK bank accounts. The programme will also highlight the UK’s high skilled tech savvy workforce, the Government’s commitment to the development of programming skills in schools and the second largest labour market in the EU.
According to Baroness Shields of Tech City UK who is heading the project: “Nowhere beats the UK as an international hub for tech companies who are looking to thrive, innovate and grow. As someone who has spent 25 years operating on both sides of the Atlantic, I have no hesitation in saying that the UK is now the best place to build a global business.”
The business case for investors will centre on a number of characteristics of the UK tech sector including:
- Number one for inward foreign direct investment stock in Europe and second in the world after the US, more companies choose the UK as their base than anywhere else in Europe.
- Home to four of the world’s top six universities, the UK has the highest proportion of adults with tertiary education in Western Europe.
- Unrivalled commitment to building digital skills by introducing coding to the school curriculum nationwide.
- For companies who want to bring exceptional talent from outside of the EU, the UK offers a number of specialist visas, including the Exceptional Talent Visa for highly skilled tech talent, as well as entrepreneur and investor visas.
- From April 1st 2015, the UK’s fully reformed tax system will offer the lowest corporation tax rate in the G7 and the joint lowest in the G20.
- As the digital capital of Europe, the UK offers a strong base for technology companies with clusters of digital excellence across the country.
- While many consider London to be the heart of the UK tech boom, a large percentage of the digital economy is based outside the city, with a rich tapestry of tech capabilities including software development in Newcastle, media and gaming in Brighton, and wireless and networking in Cambridge.