UK technology companies are being targeted by EU countries to move their businesses overseas. Since prime minister Theresa May triggered Article 50 earlier this year – effectively starting the Brexit process – a number of UK tech firms say that they have been contacted by European neighbours to move their operations away from a post-Brexit Britain.
Gerald Brady, managing director of the multibillion-dollar lender Silicon Valley Bank, said: “Other European countries are trying to attract talent by saying, ‘Hey, come to Ireland, or Holland or Germany because we’ve got free movement of people and if your number one issue is talent, we’re going to be able to help you get engineers.’ That’s happening today.”
Speaking at an event in Silicon Valley – attended by 30 technology leaders from the north of England – Brady admitted that he (and other US investors) ‘didn’t know’ what Brexit meant just yet. However the event in itself showed that there has – at the moment – not been a decline in interest from overseas investors in UK technology companies (from the States at least).
At the event, Matt Haworth, the co-founder of Manchester-based agency Reason Digital, said he and other entrepreneurs had been targeted with Facebook adverts from authorities in Estonia and Transylvania since Britain voted to leave the European Union.
And the attempts to ‘poach’ British talent is only likely to increase. Newly elected French president Emmanuel Macron has previously stood outside Downing Street and announced that he wants to take UK companies to France so that they can remain part of the EU.
However, it may take some sweet-talking as the UK’s technology sector shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, investment in northern tech businesses recorded a 10-year-high this year, with £327 million of investment pouring in.