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UK plans $80M in tech initiatives, doubles tech visas to 2,000 to shore up support amid Brexit anxiety

UK plans $80M in tech initiatives, doubles tech visas to 2,000 to shore up support amid Brexit anxiety
From TechCrunch - November 14, 2017

While the UK continues to try to find solid ground to begin its contentious Brexit negotiations, the government has launched several initiatives to try to shore up support to (and from) the countrys technology industry.

Prime Minister Theresa May and Chancellor Philip Hammond today announced that the UK would double the number of visas issued to the brightest and best talent (which includes, but is not exclusive to, tech) to 2,000.

On top of this, the UK government plans to commit 61 million ($80 million) to develop three areas: 21 million to expand Tech City (a London initiative up to now) into a new nationwide network called Tech Nation, with new hubs opening up in Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Birmingham among 10 in total; 20 million to fund infusing new tech innovations like AI into public services; and 20 million to help train young people aged 14 to 18 to identify and ward off cyber threats.

The announcements were strategically made in the days leading up to the Budget, which is set to be announced next week, November 22.

They are aimed at reassuring the tech sector that despite the countrys efforts to leave the European Unionwhich have already seen the value of the pound drop drastically against other currencies, a softening of the housing market, and other fallout as people fret over the state of the British economy as it prepares to go it aloneit will continue to work on ways of bringing in more talent and will continue to support tech businesses in the country.

These are two areas that many fear will be irreparably impacted with the political changes, and so the Prime Minister was careful to call them out specifically in her remarks today.

Our digitaltechsector is one of the UKs fastest-growing industries, and is supporting talent, boosting productivity, and creating hundreds of thousands of good, high-skilled jobs up and down the country.It is absolutely right that this dynamic sector, which makes such an immense contribution to our economic life and to our society, has the full backing of Government, May said in a speech during an event today at Number 10 Downing Street (the PMs official residence). Helping our world-class entrepreneurs and innovators to succeed is how we lay the foundations for our prosperity and build an economy fit for the future.Technology is at the heart of our modern Industrial Strategy, and we will continue to invest in the best new innovations and ideas, in the brightest and best talent, and in revolutionary digital infrastructure.And as we prepare to leave the European Union, I am clear that Britain will remain open for business. That means Government doing all it can to secure a strong future for our thrivingtechsector and ensure people in all corners of ournationshare in the benefits of its success.

To be sure, the investments announced today are undeniably small when you compare them to VC funding into tech startups in the UK overall. In2016, these totalled $9.5 billion, according to research from London and Partners.

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