Bristol’s tech leaders represent the South West at Downing Street
This month, representatives from Bristol’s tech scene were invited to number 10 Downing Street to be a part of the discussion surrounding Prime Minister Theresa May’s promise to back the UK’s world-class tech sector and build an economy fit for the future.
Tech business hub Engine Shed‘s Director Nick Sturge was invited to a roundtable with the PM and other leaders in the tech and digital community from across the UK whilst award-winning tech startup Ultrahaptics, a company that’s bringing touch to mid-air using haptics, was invited to showcase its technology at the evening’s reception alongside other thriving UK tech businesses.
“I was pleased to represent the beautiful West of England and share some of our experiences and strengths”
Commenting on his experience at the roundtable event, Nick (pictured left) tells us: “It was good that Bristol and Bath is recognised as an important actor in the UK tech ecosystem and so I was pleased to represent the beautiful West of England and share some of our experiences and strengths – and more importantly, the realities of supporting tech businesses and growing the economy.
“The highlight was, of course, that the Prime Minister, Chancellor, Secretary of State for Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, as well as the Minister for Digital Economy, were prepared to spend an hour of their time listening to tech entrepreneurs and actors from London, Scotland, Cambridge, Ireland, Sheffield and Bristol.
“We talked about how we need to create entrepreneurial business leaders and how to enable growing firms to attract the right talent – such as with share options and some form of roll-over entrepreneurs’ relief. I was genuinely impressed with the level of interest from the politicians and the insights from the experienced business leaders around the table.”
As well as offering the chance for South West representatives to air the region’s concerns and successes, the meeting saw the announcement of several new government initiates aimed at ensuring the UK’s tech sector remains one of the best in the world.
These initiatives include doubling the number of visas available to the brightest and best talent from around the world, including in digital technology, an investment of £21 million to expand Tech City UK into a nationwide network and a new £20 million fund to help public services take advantage of UK expertise in innovative technologies such as AI.
“The government, and the tech sector itself, need to be responsible for growing and developing UK talent and aspiring to create more diversity in the national tech talent pool”
By developing some of the most advanced haptic-feedback experiences, and following its own exponential growth, Ultrahaptics’ is one of the companies the government recognises as being part of the huge expansion of valuable new technologies in the UK.
Heather Macdonald Tait, who was one of the team representing the startup at the Downing Street showcase (pictured right), says: “The Ultrahaptics team was honoured to be amongst some of the most exciting technology companies in the UK today.
“It is great to see that the government is recognising, and giving a podium to, companies outside of London. Especially given that tech hubs such as Bristol are so vibrant and such significant contributors to the UK tech economy.”
Commenting on the new initiatives, she adds: “Easier access to top international talent is certainly welcomed and the allocation of more visas is a step in the right direction. Cultural diversity in teams is a key aspect of solving complex problems quickly, and international talent is key to this.
“The government, and the tech sector itself, also need to be responsible for growing and developing UK talent and aspiring to create more diversity in the national tech talent pool. At Ultrahaptics we are looking out for opportunities to play our part in this, starting locally by collaborating with organisations championing STEM and diversity, such as Girl Geek Dinners and Engine Shed.”
Thanks to Nick and Heather for chatting to us about their experiences at Downing Street. To find out more about Engine Shed and Ultrahaptics, take a look at the Engine Shed website and the Ultrahaptics website or follow them both on Twitter here: @EngineShed_BB and @Ultrahaptics.