Welcome back to your normal, weekly Policy Pulse. You’ll be very happy to know that normal service is resuming (I certainly am). It has been a busy week for the techUK policy team who have split their time between Birmingham where the Conservative Party held their Conference and Geneva for the WTO Public forum, but more on that later.
The biggest news of the week is that Theresa May has survived Conference. The dancing queen gave one of her best speeches yet, helping her to get over the line at what has been an otherwise difficult Conference season. While tech didn’t feature strongly in the Prime Ministers speech, technology and its impact on society, both now and in the future, was debated at length on fringe panels and receptions. Click here for a full digest of everything tech-related at Conservative Party Conference.
The Chancellor’s speech contained a sharp warning on digital tax. Whilst recognising that an international approach to digital tax would be better, Hammond warned that if that wasn’t achieved Britain would “go it alone”. You can read more about the proposal and find our take here. Meanwhile Javid confirmed that the UK will develop a whole world immigration system post-Brexit, with no preferential treatment for EEA nationals, he also confirmed he was considering lifting the cap on Tier 2 and reviewing the current salary thresholds. The immigration system is creaky as is, unless there is substantial reform it is hard how it will sustain the pressure of inserting an entire new cohort of people.
It wasn’t just the Conservative Party Conference app that suffered a security breach. On Monday, Facebook announced that that more than 50 million accounts had been compromised. The swift response and notification of the breach is GDPR in action and while Facebook are still investigating it is clear that the regulatory landscape has shifted with Commissioners being brought in far earlier. This will be one to watch.
The British Business Bank is considering making large direct investments in UK companies through its patient capital arm. Catherine Lewis La Torre, CEO of the British Patient Capital fund has said there is no reason why the UK shouldn’t create the next big tech giant. This will be welcome news for British start-ups and scale ups. This comes at the same time as the launch of a new £100m ‘Regional Angels Programme’ designed to address regional imbalances in access to early-stage equity finance for UK SMEs.
techUK News and Events
As I’m typing this the techUK team are hosting a panel at the WTO Public Forum entitled The rise of digital: tech and the changing nature of value added, exploring what the rise of data flows and technologies like additive manufacturing (3D printing) mean for global trade. You can follow the techUK team and delegation using the #techUKatWTO and read our daily digest from my colleague Giles Derrington.
Back in London, techUK co-hosted a joint event with the British Academy and Royal Society on data ownership. With engaging panels on rights and control and closing remarks from the Chair of the newly established Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation it was a brilliant day discussing how data can be used for good.
We are now only a couple of weeks away from our flagship Conference – Supercharging the Digital Economy, taking place in Manchester this year. You can still grab yourself a place by following this link.
All the best,