The UK will step up its efforts to become the ‘best place in the world where to start and grow businesses’ by offering world-class technology experts fast-track visa, David Cameron has announced.
During a visit to London’s technical hub – the Tech City in Shoreditch - Cameron will also announce a £15.5m funding package for innovative firms.
Funding of up to £12.5m for research and development will be available to boost digital and computing technologies across the UK as well as at least three new pots of cash worth £1m each to encourage specialist clusters including in Wales and the North East.
"The world of business is changing rapidly and one of the most promising opportunities for new jobs and growth lies within a new wave of high growth, highly innovative digital businesses,” Cameron said.
"This is why, as part of our plan to help Britain succeed, we established Tech City UK to support the creation of a technology cluster in east London and committed to help these businesses to become cornerstones of our economy.”
The decision has been made after a new report revealed the UK digital sector grew by 16 per cent between 2009 and 2012 and is behind 27 per cent of all job growth in the city, employing around 582,000 people.
Until today, exceptional visa routes have been reserved for international leaders in science and the arts who have been previously approved by organisations such as the Royal Society or Arts Council.
Starting in April next year, digital technology experts will also become eligible.
"The combination of the right policies, the right people and the right programmes, backed by a Government that listens and takes action, has led to some of the world's best entrepreneurs and their companies choosing the UK as their home,” said Cameron.
"As well as backing the businesses of today, we are also backing the businesses of the future and in just three years we have seen London become a leading centre for innovation, helping to drive our economic recovery,” he said, explaining that to rebalance the overall economy, development of technology clusters across the country has to be supported.
The Tech City Annual Report said it is now recognised as Europe's digital capital with the number of digital London-based companies having increased by 76 per cent to 88,215 between 2009 and 2012.
"In 2010, the Government recognised the growth potential of the tech sector and, three years on, the results are significant,” said Joanna Shields, Tech City chief executive and ambassador for digital industries. “The economic impact generated by creative and innovative digital businesses is not only supporting our recovery, but, as today's new data shows, it has ensured our lead as one of the world's leading digital economies.”