Roaring 20s or Lost Generation?: How the UK tech scene can influence this decade

April 7, 2020


2 min read

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What's going on here?

Brexit might not be all doom and gloom for the UK’s economic outlook if the tech industry can convince the country (and more importantly the government) to embrace and exploit technology.

What does this mean?

As the UK tries to differentiate itself from its continental neighbours, the shadow of Brexit will continue to influence the country in its decision- and policy-making. Leveraging the UK tech industry, which raked in £10.1bn of investment in 2019, could be the key to post-Brexit economic success. Increased certainty, and distance from Brussels and its rulebook could allow the UK to reposition itself as a global tech leader (behind the US and China) and a gateway between the US and the EU.

What's the big picture effect?

Law firms should take note of the fact that technology was the UK’s fastest growing industry in the last three years. Partnering with industry players could bring opportunities for law firms to grow their bottom line and advise the most influential companies of the future.

Encouraging steps have been taken by the government since the Withdrawal Agreement was passed. In his March budget, the Chancellor of the Exchequer seized the political initiative by increasing government spending on research and development and by creating a research body, equivalent to the US’s DARPA, to encourage scientific research in the UK. In contrast, France recently introduced a digital tax, which may bring short-term profits but equally will make the country a less hospitable base for technology companies. Opening up financing and investment to other players, like pension funds, could bring the additional investment that the UK government is aiming for. Increased investment means more work for law firms, especially if the Chancellor’s strategy pays off and the confidence is reflected by investors.

Additionally, the UK may seek to distance itself from EU regulation, including GDPR, in order to differentiate itself and appear more attractive to disruptive technology companies to settle here. Sensible deregulation could make the UK an “incubator” for tech companies seeking to gain a foothold in both Europe and the US. Even if Westminster takes a sensible longer-term approach, it will be more adaptable to the rapidly changing technology landscape than the 27 EU Member States

Collaboration is always emphasised between tech companies, London and regional hubs, and government and businesses. There is also a place at the table when writing new national regulations and frameworks for the law firms, who are recruiting or upskilling their workforce to be more digitally-focused. Having a competent understanding of the tech industry and its output will allow law firms to tap into a growing industry, develop partnerships and win business.

Report written by Hannah-Mei Grisley

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