downing street

Visa shakeup and tech investment package announced by UK government

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Theresa May is meeting with technology company bosses in Downing Street to announce billions in investment and around 1,600 new jobs.

A number of initiatives designed to bolster the UK’s tech sector are also being announced.

These include a new £2.5bn British Patient Capital programme, which is expected to attract a further £5bn in private investment.

The fund will be used to support UK companies with high growth potential to access long-term investment to grow their operations.

A new Start-Up Visa for entrepreneurs is also being launched in Spring 2019 which will replace a visa route which was exclusively for graduates, opening it up to talented business founders.

“The measures we are announcing today will allow innovative British start-ups to invest in their future - and in the UK - by hiring more skilled people, expanding their business and exporting their expertise across the world,” May said ahead of the meeting.

“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.”

All firms will be given free access to Ordnance Survey’s mapping data to help boost competition in the digital economy under the plans being set out by the PM.

Among the companies setting out new investment at the meeting are software specialist Salesforce, which will plough in £1.9bn over the next five years; Mubadala, which is launching a £300m European investment fund based in the UK; and IT group NTT Data, which has earmarked £41m for expansions plans.

Chancellor Philip Hammond said: “The UK is home to some of the world’s most innovative companies and I want to make sure that they stay at the forefront of the tech revolution.

“British Patient Capital will provide an extra £2.5bn for these cutting-edge businesses, ensuring Britain remains one of the best places to start and grow a company.”

British tech businesses attracted £5.8bn of funding compared to France and Germany’s combined total of £4.5bn, according to the Government.

International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said: “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.”

The new deals being struck by the government may be an attempt to forestall potential damage done to the tech sector following the UK’s upcoming exit from the European Union.

Growth in the sector reportedly slowed following the vote in 2016 before the UK had even begun full negotiations with Europe. 

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