So, the EU has received its Dear John letter… What will the Brexit break-up mean for UK innovation?
This week we witnessed yet another historic moment in what seems to be a never-ending series of historic moments. Prime Minister Theresa May scrawled her signature on a letter and finally set in motion a truly momentous political and economic divorce, the ramifications of which – positive and negative – will be felt by many generations to come.
The triggering of Article 50 has been likened to Henry VIII’s break with Rome in terms of its enormous historical significance. During its ‘conscious uncoupling’ with the EU, Britain will hope to come away with more than just a few CDs and the best sofa – manufacturers, engineers and techies are keeping their fingers crossed for a trade deal that won’t leave them feeling like they’ve lost the house, the car and the pension plan.
In her letter to EU President Donald Tusk, Mrs May outlined her desire for ‘a bold and ambitious Free Trade Agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union’. Trade bodies in the UK have made their concerns known, with a strong FTA at the top of most industries’ list. Along with easy access to trade, the FSB wants to ensure small and medium sized British businesses still have the chance to recruit the right talent – which is surely at the heart of innovation in this country.
Continuing innovation in technology is one of the government’s big priorities, with £270million funding having been recently pledged to help put the UK at the forefront of disruptive technologies. Mrs May wants us to lead the way in robotics, AI and driverless cars, but whether the sector will suffer from the break-up with the EU remains to be seen. Certainly, the government’s support for SMEs will be even more important than ever post-Brexit, which makes schemes like R&D tax relief ever more vital.
Whatever happens, innovators in the UK will continue to do what they do best – dream, create and disrupt.
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