4 January 2017

Is the UK’s support for tech startups embarrassing?

Personally, I was surprised to read comments on the BBC yesterday about the lack of support for startups attending the CES tech show in Las Vegas.

Gary Shapiro, the man behind CES – one of the biggest annual events in the tech world’s calendar, attended by nearly 200,000 people – called the lack of funding a ‘source of embarrassment’ for the UK. The event presents companies with opportunities to meet retailers, boost publicity and ultimately secure orders.

Although this is perhaps a little too strongly worded, especially considering these claims are based solely around attendance at the event and government support in doing so, for me it does highlight the need for more to be done to support our fledgling businesses.

It has been amazing to see how much support business communities offer one another throughout the UK without the need for government help, but when it comes to taxation, excessive red tape and public sector tendering, for example, there is still a lot to be done.

Additionally, the UK is still lagging behind when it comes to infrastructure and connectivity and whilst we are doing all we can at UKFast to counteract this, there is only so much that private firms can do.

The Autumn Statement flagged a ‘full fibre’ Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund and the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) is on track to secure 95% 24Mbps connectivity across the country, but what effect does that have on businesses as a whole?

In theory, it is now easier than ever to become an entrepreneur – you can do it with a smartphone and an internet connection, there’s no need to be in a big city. But, as you scale, how do you continue your momentum if your connectivity is slow or intermittent? This is the reality for many businesses in the country and these announcements by the government are having little impact in real terms.

We’re investing heavily in improving our network and have been consistently for the past decade and more. I hope that, despite Brexit, we will see a real-world, fast investment in getting our connectivity up to speed.

Entrepreneurs and fast-growing startups are what we need to keep our economy steady and on track – in a time of continued uncertainty with Brexit and events out of our control overseas, it is essential to start looking after our own economic interests and nurturing the incredible talent that we have in the UK.

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