Tech firms warn of UK losing its business allure

Lobby group TechUK said in a report that the United Kingdom was a “broken” economy for growing startups and described its regulation as “expensive and awkward”. — Bloomberg

LONDON: The United Kingdom risks falling behind in key technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and semiconductors if the government doesn’t urgently overhaul its policies and regulations, a group of almost 1,000 technology companies warns.

TechUK, a lobby group whose membership includes Alphabet Inc, Inc and Apple Inc, said in a report published that the United Kingdom was a “broken” economy for growing startups and described its regulation as “expensive and awkward”.

The report underscores growing doubts over the UK’s post-Brexit attractiveness to business, at a time when homegrown companies like Arm Ltd are looking abroad for investment and growth opportunities.

It follows Microsoft Corp’s rebuke of the UK after its antitrust watchdog, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), blocked its acquisition of videogame maker Activision Blizzard Inc.

Microsoft president Brad Smith will this week meet with UK Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to voice his frustration about the CMA’s decision, Bloomberg previously reported.

TechUK’s 60-page document provides policy recommendations addressed to “the next government” ahead of the country’s next general election, which has to take place by the end of January 2025. These include better long-term planning and delivery, and reforming tech regulation to better support growth.

Although the report acknowledged UK strengths such as early-stage startups and fintech, it outlined a litany of problems.

TechUK deputy chief executive officer Antony Walker said in a press conference that companies wanted “more clarity and more certainty” about the government’s approach to regulation. — Bloomberg

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