UK's tech sector reputation "damaged by Brexit uncertainty"

The political situation is making access to capital and talent harder than ever before, says TLA

EU and UK flags

The UK's tech sector is struggling to find both investments and attract talent due to the uncertainty of Brexit, according to research.

Advocacy group Tech London Advocates (TLA) said its members have complained of lack of clarity over the UK's status in the European Union, something which they believe has damaged the UK's reputation as a technology leader.

A survey of 200 members revealed that 39% of tech companies have found it harder to access capital in London over the past two years, with 60% believing the challenge will only get worse over the next 12 months.

Finding overseas talent, in particular, has proven to be a struggle with 60% of London's tech entrepreneurs saying they've found it harder during the Brexit negotiations. What's more, of those companies that currently employ international talent, 29% said they had received formal concerns from their staff around changing visa and immigration regulations.

When asked about the desired outcome from the ongoing negotiations, 36% said they hoped for no Brexit at all, whilst 23% just wanted a quick decision regardless of the outcome. However, the participants were less divided about Brexit's immediate impact, with 87% of tech companies suggesting that Brexit has damaged London's international reputation.

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"It is no surprise that London tech investment fell in 2018 when so many tech companies are experiencing investors deferring decisions until they see some clarity around Brexit," said Russ Shaw, founder of TLA. "One thing is certain, the political situation is harming our fastest growing industry and making access to capital and talent harder than ever before.

"It is incumbent on the private sector to provide leadership in such uncertain times, to celebrate the strength and success of the industry to continue attracting investment and to work together as a community to address the challenges we face."

The uncertainty over Brexit will continue, until October at least, but the lack of clarity is causing a great deal of alarm within the UK's tech sector. Last year, when the exit date was still set for May, TLA complied a survey of 263 entrepreneurs, investors and business leaders from its global network with 55% suggesting they wouldn't be expanding their businesses into the UK as a direct result of Brexit.

On top of that, 25% had no plans to invest in the UK for the next 12 months at least. In all, 68% viewed Brexit as the biggest obstacle faced by British technology companies.

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