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CTA president Gary Shapiro slates UK gov on tech - but startups aren't the challenge

Tamlin Magee | Jan. 10, 2017
It's not encouraging entrepreneurship where the British government faces challenges, it's in reversing years of short-sighted decision making.

Both previous chancellor George Osborne and the current chancellor Philip Hammond made a point of emphasising the role of technology in their budget statements.

And Hammond's Autumn Statement committed £4.7 billion in research and development - a move that was met with cautious optimism by some of the scientific and academic community - but could also be understood as damage limitation as access to EU grants withers away when Britain leaves the European Union. The additional funding could also be seen as a U-turn from Cameron's approach to science, which was typically to slash it.

More alarming than Britain's failure to bankroll a delegation of startups to CES is the task ahead of reversing damage down to the country's clean energy sector - with subsidy cuts blamed for the loss of half of jobs in the UK's solar industry.

The government has also made lofty promises to have a 5G network up and running across the UK, when some analysts believe that the commitment to making 5G spectrum available and usable is realistically unlikely until at least 2020. And, of course, there are still 'notspots' for internet access in rural areas up and down the country.

And when heritage chip design company ARM was sold to Japanese conglomerate Softbank, Hammond heralded this as a sign of a British success story - but it also raised questions about the government's support for keeping domestic success in the country.

So Shapiro might be correct in claiming that the UK faces a long list of challenges, but it's hard to take the CTA's claim with anything more than a couple of pinches of salt.

 

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