London Tech Week 2018: How the UK’s booming tech sector can prosper post-Brexit

Blogging daily from London Tech Week 2018, Tech London Advocates founder Russ Shaw talks visas, global technology hubs and collaborating with China...

Catch up on all of Russ Shaw’s London Tech Week 2018 blogs:


London Tech Week is now in full swing, with events that showcase London’s tech expertise taking place across the capital.

Day one was marked by the introduction and launch from Mayor Sadiq Khan, who focused on talent and the importance of the next generation for the success of UK tech.

It was a clear step in the right direction to see support from City Hall on this subject, as nurturing domestic talent will be a priority for the UK – a workforce equipped with the rights skills will underpin our country’s digital future.

Collaboration is key

Alongside developing talent here at home, building strong ties with technology hubs across the world must become a key focus for the UK. While close links with European nations remain key, Britain must also learn to look beyond Europe and explore new economic opportunities.

Collaboration that will facilitate business connections and create a knowledge exchange system is the way forward, as we look for solutions to navigate Brexit uncertainty.

Today’s China-UK Hi festival, hosted by Cocoon Networks, is a great example of the sort of connections that Britain should be looking to foster moving forward. Having recently spent time in Shanghai and Shenzhen for the first London Tech Week in China, it became clear to me that building international bridges is a significant asset for the UK, especially with tech powerhouses such as China.

China’s rapid growth and positioning as a dominant tech hub offers the UK’s community of entrepreneurs a range of opportunities. Innovators, founders and investors can explore new business prospects, increasing their capacity to develop ideas and ultimately scale their businesses.

The UK and China have an opportunity to showcase the benefits of collaboration and pave the way for hubs around the world to follow.

The aim should be to form an international network of closely connected tech hubs, and with Britain leading the way we can future-proof our economy and the success of the digital sector.

Throughout London Tech Week, I will be attending events and meeting with a number of key figures that will play a part in bringing this collaboration to life, from the TLA Turkey meetup and the India-UK Tech Summit today, to yesterday’s meeting with the Mayor of São Paulo.

What the UK tech sector needs to flourish

In order for the UK to prosper on the international stage, policies must be put in place that signify a country that is open and inclusive. The industry has shown clear ambition and commitment to achieve this, but it will need to be supported by political leadership.

Ensuring the country has a dynamic and flexible immigration system which is capable of adapting to the requirements of the tech sector must be a priority.

The Tier 2 visa system is outdated and restrictive to the needs of the tech community. If we are to build strong ties with the likes of China that will define the future of our economy, the needs of those working in the highest growing industry should be heard and addressed.

A more welcoming and fit-for-purpose immigration system would send clear messages abroad and signpost that Britain is an open nation and one that welcomes skilled talent and diverse businesses.

Enabling access to world-class talent that fuels the success of the digital sector is a key step in the process of preparing Britain for the outcome of Brexit. It has been the goal of the Tech London Advocates and the Global Tech Advocates communities to shine a light on these issues, and emphasise the significance of forming international connections.

This week serves as a perfect opportunity to highlight the strength and success of the UK tech industry. We must now build on the efforts showcased at London Tech Week and create an environment that will enable British entrepreneurs and tech firms to form close relationships with the international community, ultimately benefitting the whole of the economy.

Tech London Advocates founder Russ Shaw is blogging for Startups.co.uk daily throughout London Tech Week 2018. Tune in tomorrow for more insights…