Startup Life/News/ 250 UK tech entrepreneurs set out policy demands Political parties have so far failed to address the biggest concerns of startups and scaleups. By Maija Palmer 27 November 2019 \Startup Life How to keep the cofounder spark alive By Jing Ouyang 22 February 2023 Startup Life/News/ 250 UK tech entrepreneurs set out policy demands Political parties have so far failed to address the biggest concerns of startups and scaleups. By Maija Palmer 27 November 2019 Some 250 of the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs — including names like Justine Roberts, founder of Mumsnet, Taavet Hinrikus, founder of TransferWise and Simon Woodroffe, founder of YO! Sushi — have sent an open letter to the next UK government asking them to commit to policies supporting the tech sector. As the UK gears up for a general election campaign, different parties have made various pledges related to tech. The Conservative party manifesto, for example, contains promises of delivering full-fibre broadband to every home within five years, extending R&D tax credits and creating a new online crime-fighting agency (more details of all the tech pledges here). The Labour party, meanwhile, generated news headlines with its proposal to renationalise parts of BT to provide free broadband connectivity to citizens. No party appears to be offering the things that the tech sector itself actually wants But no party appears to be offering the things that the tech sector itself actually wants. The 21 requests in the Startup Manifesto, outlined in the open letter below, show an overwhelming concern over the effects of Brexit on staffing, finance and regulation. Six of the requests relate to changing the immigration system to make it easier to hire talented staff from abroad. This includes a call for better implementation of the UK’s Start Up and Innovator Visas. These were introduced in April, but in the first three months only two Innovator Visas were granted. Six of the requests are for changing the immigration system to make it easier to hire from abroad. If Brexit makes it harder to recruit from the European Union and the new visas continue to be this restrictive, fast-growing tech companies will be deprived of vital sources of talent. The effect on the industry would be far-reaching: nearly half of the UK’s 100 fastest-growing tech companies have at least one foreign-born founder. There is also a call for the new government to secure a Data Adequacy agreement with the EU to ensure the free flow of data between the UK and the EU after Brexit. In the case of a no-deal Brexit it could overnight become illegal to transfer data from the EU to the UK. There is also a call to extend the UK’s Enterprise Management Incentive (EMI), which makes it relatively simple to issue employee stock options — but only for companies with fewer than 250 employees. The EMI cap has started to be a hindrance for larger scale-up companies, making it harder for them to entice top talent with a great stock options package. Open Letter As founders of some of the UK’s most successful businesses, we call on the parties seeking to form our next government to prioritise the needs of Britain’s startups and scale-ups. Despite Brexit uncertainty, the nation’s entrepreneurial spirit is undimmed. Since 2010, the number of people engaged in early-stage entrepreneurial activity has increased by a third. Total venture capital investment in UK tech topped £6bn in 2018, more than any other European country. And all this growth has meant hundreds of thousands of new jobs. Entrepreneurship is essential to the British economy. That’s why we support the Startup Manifesto by The Coalition for a Digital Economy (Coadec) & The Entrepreneurs Network. What startups need from government to build world-beating companies is simple. Access to top talent from both here in the UK and abroad; the right tax incentives to foster and grow early-stage businesses then access to the capital needed to scale them; and a clear, simple set of rules and regulations flexible enough to encourage new and innovative startup business models. This means reforming the visa system so startups can attract the best and brightest without needless bureaucracy, streamlining tax reliefs so we can get timely investments in ambitious businesses, and reforming pension regulations to attract more funding into early-stage businesses. These policies would be good for startups, but more importantly, they would be good for the UK. When you support Britain’s entrepreneurs you support the whole economy. We urge all the political parties in this election to bear that in mind and develop a startup and scale-up friendly approach for the years to come. Summary of policies Talent Ensure that the Start Up and Innovator Visas are implemented successfully Reintroduce the Tier 1 General visa – or an equivalent Reduce the Tier 2 Visa Salary threshold and allow stock options to be considered in visa applications Extend the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme visa to European citizens Modernise Enterprise Management Incentives (EMI) by increasing current limits from a £30m asset capitalisation to £100m, and from 250 to 500 employees Support more women to start and scale businesses Utilise private coding schools as lifelong learning providers Access to Finance Reform the Tier 1 Investor Visa by lowering the minimum qualifying investment threshold for investment in UK startups, scale-ups and venture capital funds Reform advance assurance for Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) and Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) to unlock more investment in high-growth startups. Unleash pension fund capital by adjusting the pension charge cap Encourage the British Business Bank to provide more risk capital Reform R&D Tax Credits so that they are fit for a modern digital economy Improve access to Innovate UK grants Devise a coherent regional startup strategy Regulation Secure a Data Adequacy agreement as soon as possible Promote innovation in regulated sectors by creating a cross-sector regulatory sandbox Use Open Banking-style reforms to promote innovation in sectors such as telecoms and energy Revolutionise the way government collects, stores and shares data Redraft the Age Appropriate Design Code to be more pragmatic Work with startups to ensure tech regulation does not create new barriers to entry Protect encryption from politicised attacks The 250 signatories: Carlos Silva Co-founder, Seedrs Aron Gelbard Co-founder & CEO, Bloom & Wild Christian Nentwich CEO, Duco Emma Jones Founder, Enterprise Nation Sarah Wood Co-founder, Unruly James Lohan Founder, Mr & Mrs Smith Mats Stigzelius Founder and Chairman, Takumi Mike Lawton Founder, Oxford Space Systems Shaun Azam CFO, Sweatcoin Stephen Rapoport Founder, Pact Coffee Simon Rogerson CEO, Octopus Group Edwina Dunn CEO, Starcount (Founder, dunnhumby) Virginie Charles-Dear Founder & CEO, toucanBox Giles Andrews Co-founder, Zopa Tom Carrell CEO, Cydar Medical Jonathan Sattin Founder, triyoga Simon Woodroffe Founder of YO! Sushi & YOTEL Dom Hallas Executive Director, The Coalition for a Digital Economy Daniel Korski CEO and Co-founder, PUBLIC Kris Naudts Founder, Culture Trip Doug Monro Co-Founder & CEO, Adzuna Celia Francis CEO, Rated People Christian Faes CEO & Co-Founder, LendInvest Merlie Calvert Founder and CEO, Farillio Limited Tugce Bulut CEO and Co-founder, Streetbees Alex Stephany Founder & CEO, Beam Cecile Reinaud Founder and President of Seraphine ltd John Spindler CEO, Capital Enterprise Jeff Lynn Executive Chairman & Co-Founder, Seedrs Rajeeb Dey MBE Founder & CEO, Learnerbly Andrew Webster Co-Founder, DesignMyNight Husayn Kassai CEO & CoFounder, Onfido Justine Roberts Founder, Mumsnet & Gransnet Vincent Fraux Co-Founder, Oxford Space Systems John Fingleton Founder and CEO, Fingleton David Dunn CEO, Sunderland Software City, Chairperson, UK Tech Cluster Group Philip Salter Founder, The Entrepreneurs Network Thish Nadesan COO, Cleo Tania Boler Founder and CEO, Elvie Taavet Hinrikus CEO and Co-Founder, Transferwise Anna Lane CEO, The Wisdom Council Adrian Gregory CEO, DataIQ Ana Andres Co-founder, TidyChoice Bryony Simpson Founder, Engineers for Pioneers Iglika Ghouse Founder & CEO, USPAAH Guy Tolhurst Group CEO, Indagate Group Ian Drew Chairman, Foundries.io James Dean CEO, Sensat Iona Smith Founder, New Life Classes Ltd David Murray-Hundley “the grumpy entrepreneur “ Chairman, E-Fundamentals Elizabetta Camilleri CEO, indiluup Hannah Cox Founder, betternotstop James Clews CEO, Venture Ana Andres Director, TidyChoice Irina Pafomova Co-Founder, Engelworks Janice Gordon Founding Director, Problem Solving Company Andrew Dixon Founder, ARC InterCapital Ltd Anne-Laure Le Cunff Founder, Ness Labs Dana Denis-Smith Obelisk Support, CEO Geeta Sidhu-Robb CEO, Nosh Detox Delivery Ltd David Regler Founder, Maine Associates Ltd Cordelia Meacher Managing Director & Founder, FieldHouse Associates Emma Joy Obanye CEO, Mindful James Lemon CEO, The Growth Works Ben Fletcher Founder, Lead Bullets Adrian Wong Founder & CEO at Fuse Foundry Maria Tanjala Co-Founder, FilmChain Mark Twigg Executive Director, Cicero Group Merita Memisi CEO, Carter Labs Christina Richardson Founder, weare3Sixty Miguel Martinez Co-Founder and Chief Data Scientists, Signal AI Daniel George Founder, StepEx Michael Piddock Founder, Glisser Maria Inmaculada Martinez-Rubio Venture Partner, Deep Science Ventures Rachael Twumasi-Corson Co-Founding Director, Afrocenchix Mike Battle Co-Founder & CEO, LaplandUK Simon Hall CEO, eCommerce Performance Model Charlie Stein-Cohen Founder & CEO, Net2Work Manya Klempner Founder, Rathbone Boxing Club Robert Hollamby Professor of Enterprise, Leeds University Sven Al Hamad Co-Founder & CEO, Webiny Gemma Taylor Director, Rocket Bridging Limited Simon La Fosse Founder & Chairman, La Fosse Associates Ashok Suppiah Co-Founder & CEO, Mitra Innovation Dinara Asadulina CEO, Plombir Kate Grussing Founder, Sapphire Partners Matt Kuppers Founder & CEO, Startup Manufactory Ltd Shane Smith CEO, Intelligent Crowd TV Karina Robinson CEO, Robinson Hambro Ltd Randa Bennett Founder & CEO, VeeLoop Vincent Boon Founder, Standing on Giants Rick Lowe Managing Director, Brands In Ltd Neeta Patel CEO, Centre for Entrepreneurs Russ Shaw Founder, Tech London Advocates & Global Tech Advocates Alpesh Patel CEO, Pipspredator.com Julie Walters Founder, Raremark Joe Seddon Founder & CEO, Zero Gravity Ross Fobian Co-founder & CEO, ResponseTap Diane Banks Founder & CEO, Northbank Talent Management Ltd Elizabeth Drew Founder, Osmology (Acre Supply Co. Limited) Actar Arya CEO, D A Languages Ltd Mark Lightowler Founder & CEO, Phorix Limited Sheelpa Patel Founder & Managing Director, Mavens & Mavericks Ltd John Attridge CEO, BBXUK Reina D’costa Founder, Bizlaw UK James Boyd-Wallis Director, Fourteen Forty David Holloway CEO, Marlin Hawk Group David Benigson CEO, Signal AI Joe Charlesworth Director, Highway Data Systems Ltd Tim Chater Director, Zero to Sixty Krisztina Tardos Founder, The Merit Club Toby Schulz Founding Director, Vantage Power Will Young CEO, rais.io Agata Boczkowska COO, rais.io Jude Ower Founder/CEO, Playmob Robert Lingard CEO, Power Brand Communications Hanadi Jabado Director of Enterprise, University of Cambridge Judge Business School Hela Wozniak-Kay Co-Founder, Sister Snog Sam Gordon Founder, Gordon & Eden Halima Hamid Founder, The Rustic Roots Company Lisa Thorne Managing Director & Founder, Together Group Ltd. Chi-chi Ekweozor Founder & CEO, Assenty Veera Johnson Managing Partner, Johnson Capital Advisory Ltd Raphael Chow CEO & Co-Founder, Wevat Jack Pearson Director, EngX Una Cottrell Founder & MD, Authentic Marketing Allison Alexander Founder, Branue Lucy Sharp Co-Founder, Dot Residential Frankie Fox Co-Founder, The Foraging Fox Sean Ramsden Founder and Chief Executive, Ramsden International Fiona Castela Director, Castela Consulting Tilly McAuliffe Owner, Think Publishing & Wanderlust Magazine Natalia Bojanic Co-Founder, Form Nutrition Richard Carter CEO, CCww Touria Roqaa Founder & CEO, Roccabox Will Dracup CEO, Biosignatures Ltd Simon Cherry Director, Phantom Ltd Nick Sturge Director, Engine Shed Yannick Brunner Co-founder, WealthKernel Stuart Clarke Director, Paceline Ben Brabyn Head, Level39 Iris Anson Co-founder, Etiq Pratik Sampat CEO, ihorizon Dr Nicholas Field-Johnson Senior Partner, Fraser Finance LLP Madhuban Kumar Co-Founder & CEO, Metafused Al Gerrie Founder & CEO, ZigZag Global Rick Benfield CEO, thirdbridge Andrew Tibbitts COO, TechHub Kully Singh CEO & Founder, Player Up Aneesh Varma Founder & CEO, Aire Stephen Oldroyd Head of Strategy, Adzuna Luke Robinson Partner, Post Urban Ventures Alastair Paterson CEO, Digital Shadows Sophie Sandor Founder, Uncouth Chic Films Kristian Papadakis Founding Director, Presso Network Davide Machado Founder, Splitcab Ltd Jonathan Holtby CCO, Dataswift Nilema Bhakta-Jones Chief Operating Officer, Farillio Alex Gurr Head of Sales, Farillio Manita Rai Operations Manager, HireHand James Garner Founder, Sticky David Hulmes Founder, Jackhumble Darin Brockman CEO & Founder, Firsty Group Alma Ramirez Acosta Co-Founder, Vibio Rosemary Forsyth Founder, Forsyth Group Yogesh Gupta Founder, GET-NILA LIMITED Peter White CTO, W Cubed Tech Ltd Kuvera sivalingam Co-Founder, Learn How Now Niall Jones Founder, Innevent Phoebe Yiin Head of Operations, Dataswift George Biddle Founder & CEO, The Grad Soc Theodosis Georgiou CSO, Wild AI Jack Dow Founder & CEO, Grapevine Sakunthala Panditharatne Founder, Asteroid Technologies, Inc Tracey Johnson Manager, Digital Media Centre Barnsley Geoff Anderson CEO, PixelPin Natasha Guerra CEO, Runway East Chris Longman Head of Video Production, Farillio Simon Francis CEO, Flock Associates Jack Gaskin Co-Founder, GoKart Steve Day Co-Founder, Football Matcher LTD Phil Day Co-Founder, Football Matcher LTD Carl Stephen Patrick Hunter OBE Chairman, Coltraco Ultrasonics Oliver May COO and Co-founder, Streetbees Seb Barker Co-Founder & COO, Beam Dan Walker Founder, Lnet Digital Ltd Sophie Newbould CEO, Newbould & Co Solicitors | COO, Athensys Ian Merricks Chair, The Accelerator Network Fabrizio Nicolosi Founder, Leaders First Emma Little Founder & CEO, ExecSpace Yuliana Topazly Director, My OutSpace Evgeny Shadchnev CEO, Makers Kevin Flanagan Founder, Dialoguers Edmond Ibrahimi CEO, Propertalis James Butler CEO, Tollo Ltd laurence nicholas john CEO, Ctrlio ltd Lee Strafford CEO, ADV Chris Barley Founder & CEO, Converso Ellie Webb Founder, Caleño Drinks Vivi Friedgut Founder, Blackbullion Ltd Louise Doherty CEO, Yoller Meera Panchal CEO, Synadd Elizabeth Ellis Founder, Blue Marble Private Dr. Maria Aretoulaki Founder & Director, DialogCONNECTION Ltd Chang Liu CEO, Extend Robotics Jerry Young CEO, ieDigital Simon Thethi Founder, Tech City News / Indicium Ventures Ajay C Thomas CEO, Sweans Technologies Vicky Ngari-Wilson Founder, The Rural Retail Teck Kua Finance Director, Founders4Schools Sara Ahmadi CEO & Founder, shopest Christopher Lier Co-Founder & CMO, LeadGen App Sharmadean Reid CEO & Founder, Beautystack Pawel Bojarski CEO, Sceenic Paul Bellamy CTO, truenova Paul Andrews Founder, School Lettings Solutions Ross Williams Founder, Venntro Media Group Dalila Duffy Finance Director, Mercanto Limited Anna B. Sexton Founder, Open To Create… Ltd Becca Courtenay Co-Founder, The Plantifull Food Co. Michele Trusolino Co-Founder & CEO, Debut Shelley Stuart Director, Stuart Consulting Lizzy Hodcroft Co-Founder, Myndr Ltd Charlie Mowat Founder & CEO, The Clean Space Nicolas Colin Co-Founder & Director, The Family Chris Butcher Co-Founder & CTO, Portify Jonathan Wiggin Founder and CEO, Pionr Sho Sugihara Co-Founder & CEO, Portify Michael Nabarro CEO & Co-founder, Spektrix Anne Sutton-Scales Start-up Founder, Designihastings.com Daniele Baroncelli CEO, Trenìt! / GoBright Media Ltd Rafael dos Santos CEO, High Profile Club Dharmin Polra Partner, London Investable Michael O’Sullivan CEO, Bywire News Sorcha Lorimer Founder & CEO, Trace Carlo Alberto Seneci CEO and Co-Founder, Future Forge Ltd Shaan Ahmed Founder, Uown Kirsty Macdonald Investment Manager, JamJar Investments Mark Stuart Lead Developer, Farillio Fotini Markopoulou CEO, doppel Freddie Blackett CEO, Patch Sarah J. Wadham Founder & CEO, SJW Corporate Services Ltd. Peter Bance CEO, Origami Energy Keyu Sumaria Co-Founder, The Oblique Life Adrian Palmer Former CEO, Proven Legal Technologies Dmitry Ivanov Co-Founder, Wevat Sophie Eden Co-Founder, Gordon & Eden Elizabeth Varley Founder & CEO, TechHub Alexander Fitzgerald Founder and CEO, Cuckoo Internet Silvia Ferrero CEO, MediaLoc Ltd Simon Hulme Programme Director, MSc Entrepreneurship, UCL School of Management Diane Young Co-Founder & CEO, The Drum Dr Christopher Haley Head of Startup Research, Nesta Jessica Mendoza Founder and CEO, Monadd John Stapleton Founder, Entrepreneur & Business Advisor Giles Palmer Brandwatch Letitia Seglah CEO and Founder, Build Scale Grow Jonathan Cohen Canvus Ufuk POlat Deplike Kim Palmer Founder, Clementine Annabel Denham Founder, Female Founders Forum Emma Sinclair MBE Co-Founder, EnterpriseAlumni Karen Kerrigan Chief Operating Officer, Seedrs Related Articles Does Europe need to fix “monkey money” stock options? 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