February 2018 - Digital Report

On 8th February, the House of Lords EU committee heard evidence from three executives from the IT sector: techUK CEO Antony Walker, Simon Hansford CEO at UK cloud hosting supplier UKCloud and Russ Shaw.

Brexit jitters

Shaw who was representing the views of UK tech startups said: “If we go over this cliff edge it will be immensely disruptive. The entrepreneurs that I meet say they will just get on with it and make the best of it but it will be a very, very disruptive process for a number of them, particularly those in the fintech sector. That is one of the most vibrant aspects of the tech community in London and many of the companies will need passporting rights.”

There is a lot at stake – London Tech firms, a significant number of which are Fintech focused, received more VC money in 2017 than all other major European cities combined.

There was a similar, albeit slightly more upbeat sentiment echoed on 31st January at the ‘Datacloud UK 2018’ event in London. Speaking on two separate panels during the day, 4D Data Centres’ MD, Jack Bedell-Pearce noted that whilst Brexit is very much on the radar of data centre and cloud providers; there are more immediate challenges in the form of GDPR and the Spectre vulnerability. The general consensus of the panel was that both the worldwide and UK market are currently very strong and show no sign of abating in the foreseeable future.

Jack also spoke on the panel for ‘Brexit and the Data Center Sector – Legal and Regulatory Implications. The panel agreed that uncertainty surrounding Brexit is one of the greatest problems facing the tech sector at present. Whilst Brexit has made some things, such as hiring skilled labour, more challenging in 2017, there are opportunities for Britain to reinvent itself in a post-Brexit world – these include reducing red-tape and improving global competition through improved data and environmental regulations. When asked what advice he would give the UK and EU Brexit negotiators, Jack said, “I would ask them to provide clarity and reassurance that even in the event of a ‘No Deal’ Brexit scenario, there will be provisions in place for the continued free flow of data between the UK and the European Union”.