IT professionals want UK gov to block Nvidia's Arm takeover

The UK should be protecting jobs and intellectual property that 'underpins' its future, says BCS

The majority of UK-based IT experts believe that the government should intervene in Nvidia's takeover of Arm to protect the country's tech sector, according to a survey from the industry's professional body. 

The poll, carried out by the Chartered Institute for IT (BCS), found that 70% of IT experts want the government to step in, with only 11% agreeing that the sale of Arm to Nvidia will strengthen the UK's position as leader in digital tech. 

An overwhelming majority (95%) said they feel it's important for the UK to retain ownership and control of digital tech firms that are built and owned within the country, according to the survey.

This doesn't specifically relate to Arm, which was sold to Japanese investment group Softbank in 2016, but Nvidia's planned £31 million takeover of the company has caused some concern within the UK's tech industry and the government. MPs have called for sanctions to protect UK jobs and also Arm's business operations, which contribute to the UK's economy, particularly in a time of recession. 

The poll highlights a belief that the UK should control the ownership and destiny of "strategically significant" tech companies, according to BCS. This, it says, is not for nationalistic reasons, but because keeping assets like Arm will protect jobs and secure the intellectual property rights underpinning the UK's future. "The fact that ARM has been independent has meant that a whole swathe of licensees has been comfortable using its technology," CCS Insight analyst Geoff Blaber told the BBC. "The moment that goes to a competitor, that does risk being compromised."

Just over three-quarters (73%) of IT professionals questioned in the survey agreed with Blaber. However, 40% felt that Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang was right and that a combination of his company with Arm would create a firm "fabulously positioned for the age of AI".

"We recommend that strategic digital assets and significant technological intellectual property are considered more fully in the government's Industrial Strategy," said Paul Fletcher, the chief executive of BCS.

"In a post Brexit and COVID world the UK should be a beacon of technological innovation and leadership."

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