George Osborne, Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer, launched today's ICT conference at Lancaster House in London by promoting 225 percent tax breaks, and an Entrepreneur Visa that "enables venture capital backed start-ups to move to the UK quickly and easily". He also trumpeted the success of London's Tech City in attracting investment.
The one-day Information and Communications Technology Summit held today (3 August) is one of a series designed to promote British trade and industry to senior businessmen and politicians visiting the London Olympics. (See 'Best of British' IT business to get virtual showcase)
In his prepared speech, Osborne noted that the Olympic opening ceremony included a tribute "to the British inventor of the World Wide Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee," and said "the UK is the most 'wired' economy on the planet".
"Earlier this year, a report by Boston Consulting Group showed that the internet economy was responsible for 8.3 percent of UK GDP in 2010. This is a far bigger share than any other G20 economy," he said.
"British shoppers make more purchases online than any consumers in any other country in the world."
Osborne said the government had added tax breaks for game development to its successful tax breaks for the film industry. (This was part of the April 2012 budget.)
He said there were also research and development tax credits offering tax relief of up to 225 percent. "So investing £1 million in R&D could mean getting up to £2.25 million back in tax relief. No country in the world can match that," said Osborne.
To encourage overseas investment, Osborne said "we’re rolling out the red carpet for the next generation of technology entrepreneurs by introducing a brand new Entrepreneur Visa. This Entrepreneur Visa enables venture capital backed start-ups to move to the UK quickly and easily. So if you’re investing in early stage companies outside the EU, you can bring them to London using this targeted Visa."
Osborne noted that Google, Amazon, AirBnB, Yammer and General Assembly had moved into London's "Tech City" in Shoreditch; that Intel, Vodafone and Japan's GREE were also investing in East London; and that "Facebook has committed to open its first non-US engineering base, right here in London."
He said: "British technology has hit a purple patch."
Although American companies are leading the way, Italian investors have a £5 million fund backing Morning Boost, which will open an office in Tech City this month. Also, GREE Inc, a mobile social gaming company based in Tokyo, will open a game development studio in Tech City in September.
Following today's conference, the UK promotion will continue with an online showcase hosted by 6connex. Features include the presentations, online Q&As, and access to other useful documents and videos. This virtual event runs until 4 February 2013.