MP demands more cash for tech start-ups

An MP has presented a private members bill to encourage more investment in new tech firms
Written by Jo Best, Contributor

Anne Campbell, Labour MP for Cambridge, is campaigning today for US-style legislation that would plough significant funds into the UK's tech start-ups.

Campbell brought the legislation, modelled on the US' Small Business Innovation Development Act, before parliament as a private member's Bill yesterday.

The US law demands federal government spend 2.5 percent of its research and development budget on small and medium-sized businesses — a demand which sees around $6bn dished out to start-ups every year.

In a recent report setting out how a UK system should work, Campbell said: "Small firms often fail to become large firms and do not achieve their true potential... This is a wasted opportunity and one which we cannot ignore."

Rather than asking government for handouts, Campbell wants to see a system of soft start-ups, where Whitehall would identify a technological need and then tender for small firms to do the job.

The report identifies Cambridge Silicon Radio and Autonomy as two soft start-up successes but adds of the UK's tech market: "Over at least 25 years of trying, the UK has singularly failed to turn its entrepreneurial start-ups into companies of the scale of Cisco, Sun, Google or Amgen."

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