Last week the Financial Times ran a piece ‘Tech groups campaign for San Francisco tax reform’.
‘If passed in November the measure would relieve companies from paying corporate taxes based on the number of employees they have and instead levy taxes on gross sales’.
We caught up with several leading Silicon Roundabout entrepreneurs and asked them, ‘If you could launch a campaign tomorrow to help fast growing Tech companies in the UK, what would be top of the list?’
Brendan Gill, co-founder and CEO of OpenSignal
I’d like to see more savvy US and international investors being encouraged to invest in UK startups. Having access to high calibre investors with experience that extends beyond the corporate finance domain is so important to high growth startups. We need more than dumb money – or even worse – money that comes with onerous conditions from people that have never run a company. Sure, we do have some top tier investors in the UK and Europe but it is a small pool compared to what is available in the Valley and elsewhere. If we can encourage more of these investors to invest in the UK it will be a boost to startups and the competition will also force domestic investors to up their game and offer fairer terms.
Taavet Hinrikus, co-founder of TransferWise
Here are the first issues that the UK government should look at to encourage innovation and tech:
- Visa issues – bringing people into the UK is still hard. Simpler visa regime for highly qualified knowledge workers would help.
- Modernised regulation, especially in financial services – regulation is hard and takes time to get right and update, but a lot of this is simply outdated and can be done much better. For example, how do paper based identification checks made sense at this day and age?
- Tax relief – this is a basic one, but tax breaks for companies with fast growth that create jobs are always a good encouragement
Joe Cohen, founder and CEO of Seatwave
- A serious effort to include engineering/SW development as part of the national curriculum
- Publicly promote and extend the SEIS scheme to larger companies
- Have a consistent, well-understood CGT plan for companies
- Employee/owner proposal from chancellor made into law
- Reduce overlapping regulatory bodies (parliament, OFT, local trading standards and other bodies all have overlapping oversight)
- Minimise/eliminate need to file company accounts for business under £2m of turnover
Jeff Lynn, CEO of Seedrs
The most important campaign for fast-growing UK tech companies would be to increase awareness of the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS). Britain has the most generous tax reliefs for investing in startups anywhere in the world – sufficiently generous that investing in seed-stage startups is effectively a riskless exercise for high earners and comes with massive upside – but since their launch in April they have been kept a virtual secret. It is vital that investors up and down the country realise just how attractive it is to invest in startups today. With that knowledge, the seed-stage funding gap would narrow tremendously, and we would see rapid growth in the number and success of startups being launched in the UK.
Christopher Kahler, co-founder and CEO of Qriously
A programme that matches seed investments of accredited angel investors – you still hear of young startups complaining about how hard it is to get virgin money.
Also tax incentives for growth (most tax regimes are calculated on a fixed state of a company (e.g. revenue) and not for how fast revenue is growing). It seems to make sense that if fast-growing companies are what’s desired, those should be most incentivised.
Thank you Brendan, Taavet, Joe, Jeff and Christopher.
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