Last week the EY G20 Digital Entrepreneurship Barometer ranked the UK as the top G20 country for the ease of starting a digital business and navigating through the country’s regulatory environment.

In addition, Britain came in second to the United States, for its digital knowledge base and information and communications technology market, which includes access to technology and expertise, as well as the quality of research institutions.

Over the last ten years, London has grown into a tech industry hub, providing huge opportunities for entrepreneurs looking to invest in an existing digital business or start one up from scratch.  The city also provides some of the best immigration solicitors in the country, who can help Tier 1 Investor and Entrepreneur Visa applicants gain entry into the UK, in order to take advantage of the business opportunities available.

The number of companies in London’s digital technology sector has grown by 46% since 2010, employing close to 200,000 people – a 17% increase on five years ago, according to Oxford Economics.

Opportunities in the tech industry are not just limited to London.  In the North of England, in cities such as Manchester and Leeds, the digital sector is thriving and Cambridge is considered a world-renowned IT hub.

So why has the UK become such a hub for the tech industry?  Here are five reasons why the UK really is the best place to be if you are a digital entrepreneur.

Access to a highly educated labour market

Oxford, Cambridge, St Andrews, Manchester – some of the best universities in the world are based in the UK.  Being within the EU and possessing a highly-skilled native workforce means that UK companies are in the enviable position to access talent from across Europe to fill any skills shortages.

Britain is also strategically placed to entice talented tech workers from the United States to its shores.  With five international airports in London alone and a central time-zone between the US and Asia, the UK offers a convenient location to set up a head office for tech companies planning to expand into international markets.

More importantly, talented migrants want to come to the UK.  Last year, the Global Talent Competitiveness Index, which rates countries on their ability to attract and develop talent, placed Britain in seventh place out of 93 nations.

Business friendly administration and tax laws

The UK has the lowest corporate tax rate of the G7 countries and the joint lowest tax rate in the G20.  At present it is 20%, but this is set to be reduced to 17% by 2020.  It is also incredibly easy to set up a company in the UK.  Last year, the World Bank ranked the UK as the sixth best country to do business in.  A company can be incorporated in 24 hours and for as little as £13 (as at the time of writing).  For foreign entrepreneurs, engaging an experienced business and immigrationsolicitor to organise the setting up and registering of your company will ensure you get the best results in the quickest amount of time.

Government support for the tech industry

The UK Government has thrown its support behind the tech industry, creating bodies such as Tech City in East London to promote and develop the tech ecosystem. It is now home to over 3,200 tech companies and cited as one of the hottest locations in the tech world right now.

Tech City has also been given the ability to endorse tech applications for Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) Visas.  UK-based digital technology firms can now hire teams of up to five people from outside the EU, allowing you to attract high calibre and high performing teams that have a proven track record of creativity, collaboration and commercial vision.

Unrivalled cultural activities and a thriving expat community

It takes more than a good business environment to attract tech entrepreneurs; most of those that work hard want to play hard too.  The UK provides a wealth of cultural activities such as theatre, markets, films, ballet and opera, as well as historical sites and intellectual experiences.

The expat community is also thriving in the UK with 12% of the population born abroad.   Most UK cities have vibrant expat communities, including large numbers of people from the US, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

Generous Entrepreneur, Investor and Skilled Worker Visas

Although standards are high and entry criteria is strict, UK Entrepreneur, Investor and work visas offer generous conditions for successful applicants.

These include:

  • accelerated settlement plan for investors who invest £5-£10 million and entrepreneurs who increase the income of an existing business by £5 million and create at least 10 new jobs
  • allow skilled workers to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain after five years
  • successful visa holders can purchase property, access free healthcare and education and leave and re-enter the country (although there is a restriction on the amount of days spent outside the UK if you wish to apply for settlement.

In Summary

The UK continues to position itself as a world-leader in the tech sector.  Opportunities abound for skilled workers, entrepreneurs and investors who are looking for new opportunities to invest their talent, time and money.

Given the importance the British Government has placed on growing and promoting the tech sector, the favourable circumstances that have made the UK second only to Silicon Valley in terms of tech industry growth, will only continue to grow.

OTS Solicitors is one of the most respected immigration law firms in London.  By making an appointment with one of our immigration solicitors, you can be assured of receiving some of the best legal advice available in the UK today.  We can assist you with all aspects of business immigration law, including obtaining visas and Sponsor Licenses.

If you wish to discuss any of the points raised in this blog, please phone our London office on 0207 936 9960.

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