Following Philip Hammond's delivery of the Autumn statement - his first as chancellor - industry professionals have offered their reactions and analysis regarding what it means for the technology sector.
Robin Tombs, CEO, Yoti:
“In the wake of Brexit I’m pleased to see such a focus on technology and innovation in the Autumn Statement, both for businesses and consumers. The planned investment in progressing 5G technology is very welcome given that everyone living, learning and working in the UK increasingly relies upon the internet and digital solutions. There are also some welcome policies from a business perspective, with the £2bn funding for R&D set to propel the UK to a new level when it comes to innovation and developing new ground-breaking technologies.
“Entrepreneurs and business leaders looking to invest in the UK are being given a positive message with today’s Statement. Along with the generous SEIS and EIS tax schemes for early investors, EMI schemes for key staff and management, strong legal and professional service industries and a diverse mix of highly skilled people, the UK remains a great place for start-ups, particularly tech businesses, to flourish. In the years to come, it’s important that innovation remains at the top of the government’s agenda so that businesses in a post-Brexit Britain can continue to lead the way in STEM industries, attract the best talent and excel on the global stage.”
Marcus Jewell, VP EMEA at Brocade:
“It is encouraging to see the UK government recognising the need for both businesses and consumers to embrace 5G and enhance connectivity. For too long huge swathes of the country have been stuck with poor connectivity, considering the UK’s position as a technology powerhouse this was never acceptable. This announcement is a key next step for the UK’s digital infrastructure, as it will not only improve connectivity for homes and businesses, but provide the critical foundations needed to handle the huge data demands of our future smart cities.
"The increased availability of full-fibre broadband and the trials of 5G internet promised by the government investment is especially vital if the UK is going to maintain its position as a digital innovator and keep up with economies where fibre broadband has been the default install for some time.”
William Newton, EMEA Director, WiredScore:
“With its new targets for full-fibre broadband, the government is setting goals that will truly future-proof the UK’s connectivity infrastructure – rather settling for part-fibre investments that will not meet the digital needs of businesses and consumers in five years and beyond.
“There is certainly a long way to go before the UK becomes fully fibre – with many areas still not yet benefitting from the government’s previous ultra-fast or even super-fast targets. But this new investment is another clear example of the government’s essential investment in ensuring that the UK stays at the forefront of future-proofed digital industries.”
Duncan Tait, Corporate Executive Officer, SEVP and Head of Americas and EMEIA, Fujitsu EMEIA:
“The Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund is a vital step in enabling UK businesses to remain competitive in the digitally disrupted world. Businesses are facing a greater threat than ever before from digital disruptors in every sector. To survive, businesses must be able to innovate using the latest technologies, such as the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence.
"Collaborating closely with technology experts will be crucial. For this companies need reliable, fast broadband speeds. The Government’s move to improve the UK’s infrastructure will therefore help businesses to compete and thrive against newer digital disruptors, both at home and globally.”
Mark van der Linden, UK Country Manager at Dropbox:
“Today’s pledge to improve the nation’s digital infrastructure is key to ensuring the UK retains its seat at the global innovation table. SMEs are the backbone of our economy, so we must equip them with the necessary digital technologies in order for them to continue to drive sustainable growth. Whether by boosting external collaboration to strengthen business networks across the country, or improving employee productivity through introducing agile working methods – technology is critical to propelling the UK forward.
"In addition, the UK continues to lead the charge on R&D with our universities investing heavily in critical research that is used across the world. Research continues to be a global and collaborative process, so we hope today’s £2bn investment will help businesses and educational institutes increase the pace of innovation at home and abroad.”
Kit Cox, CEO, Enate:
“The Autumn Statement is a step in the right direction for the UK. By announcing a £23bn National Productivity Investment Fund as well as confirming the additional £2bn investment fund into UK robotics and AI, it would seem like the new administration is not only alert to the potential economic, cultural and societal benefits of this industry, but actually doing something to encourage it.
"However, we must treat today’s announcement with cautious optimism. What is happening in the fields of AI and robotics is arguably the biggest and most exciting evolution of our time and simply throwing money at it will not unlock its potential.
"Hearing the government's desire to foster, develop and keep innovation here is welcome, but the government will only be considered visionary when it instigates a radical education overhaul as, right now, we don’t have enough people with the skills to deliver.”
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