UK start-ups want to remain in EU, finds Coadec

Most entrepreneurs will vote to stay when the EU referendum comes, citing skills access and single market

UK start-ups overwhemingly wish to remain part of the EU ahead of the upcoming EU referendum, a new survey has found.

Coadec, the non-profit trade body for start-ups that conducted the survey, cited access to a large single market and the free movement of labour as entrepreneurs' main reasons to stay.

Just 19 per cent of the 175 respondents (comprising 126 founders, 26 employees, 19 investors and four others) said the UK should leave the EU, and Coadec's executive director, Guy Levin, said the union is essential to start-ups' growth.

He said: "The UK's start-up community is international in its outlook and in its composition. Founders come to the UK from across Europe (and the world) to launch and grow their businesses. They look to the Europe for talented staff to help them grow.

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"In their responses, even those who said they wanted to remain in the EU pointed out that the EU is far from perfect. The burden of regulation can be high, and the pace of change too slow. But despite this they made the case that the benefits of access to the single market, harmonised regulations and free movement of labour, outweighed the costs."

For those wishing to leave, the main issues were sovereignty, over-regulation and red tape.

A survey from Tech London Advocates conducted last year revealed similar results, with 87 per cent of London's tech community wishing for the UK to stay part of the EU.

Additionally, 72 per cent of techUK members - who range from SMBs to large enterprises - want the UK to stay in a reformed EU, with a further 17 per cent wanting to stay regardless of further reforms.

Top priorities for reform included a more open and competitive single market, the creation of a digital single market and improvement to processes for assessing new regulations.

TechUK CEO Julian David said at the time: "Tech companies are not starry eyed about the EU, they see all of its imperfections. But with customers and suppliers across Europe, these companies are saying the benefits of membership outweigh the costs. They want the UK to help drive the reforms that Europe needs to become more open, innovative and competitive.

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"The UK tech sector is a powerful driver of economic growth. This success has been enhanced by the access UK tech firms have to EU markets. The issues keeping our members up at night economic uncertainty and access to a skilled workforce would not be improved by a decision to leave the EU."

Last year, Coadec launched the #SaveSkilledMigration petition in order to fight against the Migration Advisory Committee's (MAC) review of Tier 2 visa regulations. In January, the MAC published a report detailing planned changes, which include a rise in the minimum salary threshold for migrants and a new 'immigration skills charge'.

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