UK’s leading tech start-up role risked by Brexit

The UK’s leading position in the European tech start-up industry could be threatened if Brexit makes it harder to attract foreign employees, according to a new study. The UK currently boasts almost a third of all tech start-up employees in Europe, ahead of France on 19pc and Germany on 18pc, a research by venture capital firm Balderton revealed.

But tech companies, which have high levels of foreign workers, fear this position could be at risk as the fall in the pound makes UK salaries less competitive and the Government considers curbs on free movement of people. Official figures suggest technology is one of the UK sectors most reliant on foreign workers, with more than a fifth of employees hailing from overseas.

It was found in the analysis that 42 per cent of new tech start-ups in the UK in 2015 had at least one foreign founder.

A survey of chief executives and senior staff found that 82 per cent of UK start-ups were concerned about continued access to talent post-Brexit.

Balderton claimed that “the attractiveness of the UK to this highly mobile workforce could decline rapidly and that the high costs of hiring staff who need visas could become a significant issue, should policies towards skilled workers change significantly post-Brexit”.

James Wise, a partner at the firm said, “Tech companies hire very quickly and grow quickly”.

“Hiring in a couple of weeks is the norm, so having to go through visa system that would take 16 weeks would severely diminish our ability to be competitive.”

He added: “London, together with Paris and Berlin, dominate the tech scene in terms of employees and investment today. London in particular has benefited significantly from migration, with over 40pc of the tech companies founded last year having at least one non-native founder.

“But the relative weakness of the pound since the referendum vote, together with developer’s willingness to be mobile and work in smaller tech hubs, could reduce the relative advantage the capital enjoys without proper policy support post-Brexit.”

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