Mattias Ljungman, Partner at one of Europe’s largest VC funds Atomico, made yet another important case for the UK to remain in the European Union. He is clear that staying in the EU does not mean “more of the same”, and instead gives the UK “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to shape Europe’s future […] into what we want it to be.”
I couldn’t agree more. This is a time of rapid technological change (artificial intelligence, self-driving cars, …). And London is in a unique position as the epicentre of European tech (although other’s are catching up). On a global scale, London is arguably taking a strong second place, behind Silicon Valley.
One could be forgiven for taking London’s leadership position for granted, given the City’s long-standing importance in world financial markets. In the case of technology however, it is not about bankers pushing around capital from their Bloomberg computer screens (to put in bluntly). Rather, it is about companies which deliver tangible benefits to consumers across Europe and beyond. The innovation and creativity are happening inside the UK, but it needs easy access to Europe’s markets and free-flow of skilled labor to be competitive.
Silicon Valley, which had the benefit of a single USA market, is shaping our daily lives immeasurably (think of Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Netflix, and so forth). Imagine what the UK can do, too, if it remains in one of the the biggest single markets in the world (500 million people).
Proponents of a Brexit should ask themselves what they want UK’s tech sector to be in 10-20 years: a global leader such as the City’s financial sector, or a follower alongside other players who are benefitting from big open markets.