A recent BBC5Live Wake Up To Money Brexit Investigation with one of the largest tech industry players, Cambridge Consultants, TechInsider and the brightest Start-Ups has revealed that far from being a hindrance to the sector, BREXIT has not only strengthened the industry but is delivering new outlets to it throughout the sector.

Sean Farrington visited Cambridge, one of Europe's biggest Technology Clusters, to find out how Brexit will affect the 157,000 people employed there and the 1.7million people employed in the tech sector throughout the UK.

He attended Cambridge Consultants' Laboratory in the Cambridge Science Park to ask Richard Hammond, Director of Synthetic Biotics, Giles Derrington, Head of Policy, TechUK and Melanie Harwood, Founder and CEO of Start-Bee, their thoughts on Brexit and its effect on the Tech Sector.

"Cambridge Consultants was founded in 1960, long before the European Union and the Science Park was opened in 1970's, all before the UK's relationship with the EU was well underway. It does remind you that lots of innovation, lots of growth does happen regardless of the scenario. If the technology is there and there is interest in it, they will buy it. But how much of the success over the decades has been because of the EU, has any of it has been held back?" asked Sean Farrington.

Richard Hammond, Director of Synthetic Biotics, Cambridge Consultants, responded, "I think a lot of people define it much too narrowly. There is a view that tech is somehow only IT and computers which is far too narrow a definition . Technology is any application of science or engineering to solve problems in the world. To make good products and processes and improve what happens and how we do things. It is a global industry for the UK, generating £170 Billion annually by the Tech Sector and it provides 1.6 million jobs."

Sean Farrington asked Melanie Harwood, CEO and Founder of Tech Startup, Start-Bee, "When you're running a start up, you don't know what the future looks like for yourselves, does what happens on March 2019 and any relationships we have with the European Union really affect how your business might look later that year?"

Melanie Harwood has a positive take on Brexit, "Not at all, I no longer listen to nor watch the news as it is far too negative. Our Handwriting Lessons, which are delivered by an age-appropriate child for each specific school year group, are streamed directly onto the Interactive Whiteboards, Laptops and SmartPads of schools up and down the country. We have been inundated with requests for our innovative lessons to be delivered to schools from as far afield as Tuvalu. We are also launching a new product, Handwriting @ Home with Hannah-Jane, an online Membership Club, so that children can work alongside our peer-to-peer child instructor, in the comfort of their own homes . The interest for both our tech learning offerings are coming in from places I have never heard of. I am now looking at Google Earth to find out where our lessons will be streamed, because technology has no borders whatsoever! We must be positive because it is this technology that is shaping our world and making it easier to trade. Brexit has certainly opened my own mind to the possibilities of trading not only with Europe. There is a huge market out there for British Tech Firms and Start-Ups like mine to spread outward regardless of Brexit."

Giles Derrington, Head of Policy for European Exit at TechUK, had his own take on it, "Minister's views on data rules was based on a fundamental misunderstanding of how EU rules on data protection worked. Brexit, like some of the intricate machines in a science/tech DNA laboratory, there are so many moving parts to it, and there are some Ministers who really do get it and then there are some Ministers who for various reasons are outside the Tech space who think that we need to change the way we think in order to do better trade deals with the US and elsewhere. What Julian David, CEO of TechUK said recently is that High Data Protection standards are really important not just for the sector being able to move personal data across the UK and EU Border, but also for consumers having trust that their data is being used properly and safely. They don't want to see standards being watered down. They want to see a high standard meeting the EU level standard, something called the the GDPR, General Data Protection Regulation. They want to maintain that in the UK and then build on that to do the kind of trade deals that the International Trade Secretary, Liam Fox, wants to see. We all want to make the UK the hub for tech around the world, the question is whether we do that by reducing standards or bringing them up. Certainly by the UK's standards, the best way would be to bring them up to the EU standards and to maintain those high standards would be the way to do it."

On the point of AI (Artificial Intelligence), which has seen a lot of large tech firms investing into and doing their research from Cambridge Park, to advance the likes of Google machines and Alexa being used in homes, that's what one of the main focusses of Tech Uk, when you look at the tech sector and the relationship with the EU, what's the key thing for Cambridge Consultants and the Tech Industry as a whole?

Richard Traherne, Chief Commercial Officer of Cambridge Consultants agreed, "I think that AI (Artificial Intelligence) is certainly a big theme and it is significant because it touches every industry. Technology is helping us to be smarter in our world, to live better lives, help our medical sector. For us, as a professional services company in the centre of all that our business is about helping companies to develop new technologies and providing professionally qualified services to do that. So human talent is at the centre of the European and Brexit agenda for us and access to the best possible people from around the world, to ensure we can compete on a global scale, is important."

A question that most are asking concerns skilled workers, "We've already heard from the government that highly skilled people seem quite likely to be able to get the visas they need. When we look at the hospitality sector, the agricultural sector, where it's lower income they require much lower skilled workers, those sectors require a lot of those and do from the rest of Europe. That doesn't seem to be the problem for Tech as you will get the people your sector needs. "

Richard Treherne of Cambridge Consultants agrees, "We have a quiet confidence that we will. Certainly we have not seen that any people have left our organisation as a result of the recent Brexit activities. But, it's not to say that people are not pausing to consider moving to the UK and we need to see this uncertainty to end as quickly as possible. The technology sector moves so quickly that we need access to very specialist, deep expertise at the point in time that we need it. If that is not available to us without a lack of confidence that becomes a problem. About 12% of our staff on this site in the UK are European Union Nationals. Maintaining that is important to us and it is a delicate balance."

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About Harwood Education Ltd

Harwood Education,delivers innovative and outstanding education Resources, Programmes, Training and Learning Schemes to the entirety of the education sector as well as the home learning sector.
Created by Melanie Harwood – Education Specialist, Denise Meissner – Occupational Therapist and Autism Specialist , Jonathan Harwood – World Renowned Cameraman and Educational Filmmaker. It serves the education sector, and represents educational creatives and “education disruptors” worldwide, including manufacturers and distributors of equipment, materials, books, consumables, furniture, technology, ICT hardware and EdTech.