Tech entrepreneurs across the country have rallied behind the Conservatives, publishing an open letter in the Guardian that states it would be bad for jobs, growth and innovation if the UK was to change course now.
The founders and CEOs, who endorsed David Cameron’s Tory party for supporting the UK tech industry, include Joanna Shields, David Cameron’s digital advisor and a baroness; Brent Hoberman, cofounder of lastminute.com and Andrew Fisher, executive chairman of Shazam.
The cofounders of other successful technology companies such as Huddle, Transferwise and Hailo also signed the letter, as did prominent venture capitalists like Eileen Burbidge of Passion Capital and Sonali De Rycker of Accel.
The letter reads: “Between us we founded, funded or run some of Britain’s most successful startups.
“Through the internet we serve your food, find your destination, send your money, book a taxi, identify a song you are hearing – and many other things besides. Our success has been the product of sleepless nights and days of hard work. Thanks to colleagues and customers we have started and grown great British businesses. But our success has also been helped by the government’s support.”
The letter mentions several of the key investment schemes that they would like support to continue for post-election, including: EIS, SEIS, R&D tax credits and the Patent Box. Some of these, including EIS and R&D tax credits, were introduced by a previous Labour government.
“Just as important as individual schemes has been the government’s attitude. It has enthusiastically supported start-ups, job-makers and innovators and the need to build a British culture of entrepreneurialism to rival America’s. Elsewhere in the world people are envious at how much support start-ups get in the UK. This Conservative-led government has given us wholehearted support and we are confident that it would continue to do so. It would be bad for jobs, bad for growth, and bad for innovation to change course,” they said.
Responding to the document, conservative leader David Cameron hailed it an important intervention.
“Obviously they are responsible for the job creation and the growth but the government really has got behind this... It is a really big success story," he said. "When you look round Tech City now you see a huge amount of growth not just in London but in other offshoots. A lot of other European countries are extremely jealous that we have managed to capture this industry in the way we have.
“The next stage is to try and make sure we want the next Google, the next Amazon, the next Facebook here. We’ve got some great startups and some brilliant thinking and ideas going on. But we want some of the giants too.”
Techworld contacted the Labour party but did not get an immediate response.
Responding to the letter, shadow Cabinet Office minister Chi Onwurah, said: "Most innovative and technology focussed businesses I speak to – big and small – recognise that the real threat to their business comes from the Tory Party risking our place in Europe.
"A Labour Government will safeguard our position in a reformed EU, cut and then freeze business rates for over 1.5 million small business properties and set up a proper British Investment Bank to ensure firms can get the finance they need to innovate and grow.
"And we will build on our strengths as a leader in digital technology by supporting the sector with a long term industrial strategy, strengthening broadband coverage, and improving digital skills by reforming vocational education in schools, colleges and universities – as well as using digital technology to help drive innovation across government and reform public services."
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