UK Startups Call On Politicians To Improve Visas, Broadband, Skills, Regulation

Ahead of the next General Election, over 150 UK tech startups and investors have backed a new “Startup Manifesto” (in PDF or Slideshare) aimed at lobbying the main UK political parties to shape policy towards a tech-driven society.

The non-partisan 24-point Startup Manifesto, published by the non-profit Coalition for a Digital Economy (known as Coadec) asks policymakers to — among others things — invest in super fast broadband and relax rules on hiring international talent, including streamlining visas for entrepreneurs and graduates, and improve the teaching of coding in schools.

The backers of the Manifesto, include a who’s-who of the UK tech scene including King,TransferWise, SwiftKey, Lovestruck, Funding Circle, MOO, Index Ventures, Balderton Capital, Passion Capital, Techstars London, Seedcamp and Accel Partners.

The Manifesto, put together by Coadec Executive Director Guy Levin (a former economic adviser to the Chancellor, George Osborne MP, when he was in Opposition) has received an encouraging reaction from politicians so far.

Chuka Umunna MP (Shadow Business Secretary) said: “We want to see more people starting up, leading and working in business and the creation of high-skilled, better-paid jobs. Britain’s burgeoning digital economy has a huge role to play in meeting both of these challenges, and that’s why Coadec’s manifesto is right to emphasise the importance of digital startups as well as the need to foster digital skills.”

Matthew Hancock MP (Minister of State at the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills) commented: “There’s no doubt there is yet more to do and we will scour any proposals to make Britain the best place in the world to start and grow a business.”

In the main it calls for:

• Cutting taxes for entrepreneurs, including reducing National Insurance Contributions (NICs) for startups that volunteer to teach coding,

• Retraining those made redundant by disruptive technology, rather than blocking innovation through protective regulation,

• Opening the doors to tech talent from outside the EU by restoring the post-study work visa and allowing VCs to sponsor employees on behalf of startups,

• Backing the UK’s FinTech companies by creating a legal framework for Bitcoin, and digitising the identity checks required for Anti-Money Laundering procedures.

The full list of recommendations can be found in the Manifesto here or below

Robin Klein (Partner, Index Ventures) said: “The progress made during the past few years towards making the UK the best place in the world to start and run a company has been significant. There is however much more to be done. This manifesto is packed with practical ideas which in the aggregate would make further meaningful strides towards the UK’s goal.”

Damian Kimmelman (Founder and CEO, DueDil) said: “If adopted, these recommendations would give us the edge we’ll need in a hyper-competitive global economy.”

Jon Bradford (MD, Techstars London): “Over the last four years, the government has done a huge amount to nurture the startup ecosystem… But now is an important juncture: if we are to continue on this path of growth, we need to consolidate the accomplishments to date.”

Taavet Hinrikus, Co-founder of TransferWise, said: “Within a decade, technology will have transformed the world as we know it. Banking, for instance, is already changing, and London appears – at least for the moment – to be leading the way. However, there is so much more the next government could do to secure this.”

Tom Raffe (Founder, Screenburn) said: “Computing in schools is an issue I’m particularly interested in as we need to continue to produce first class developers in order to complete on a global level. It will be essential to have a thorough review of ICT education in schools in order to plan for the future.”

Coadec is sponsored by Google, TechHub, iHorizon and Intuit.

The Startup Manifesto Recommendations:

Improve access to finance
1. Commit to keeping SEIS and EIS tax reliefs for the next Parliament
2. Bring back tax reliefs for Corporate Venture Capital
3. Remove the cap on Entrepreneurs’ Relief and lower the equity threshold

Improve access to talent
4. Restore post-study work visas for STEM graduates
5. Make it easier for startups to hire from overseas
6. Reform the Graduate Entrepreneur Visa
7. Open up the Entrepreneur Visa to those with funding from angel investors and crowdfunding platforms
8. Review and streamline visa processes with the support of the Government Digital Service
9. Invest to help teachers deliver the new computing curriculum
10. Create incentives for individuals and startups to help train teachers and students
11. Promote free tools including Moocs, Codecademy, and third sector initiatives like code clubs

Build world class digital infrastructure and increase supply of affordable office space
12. Continue to invest in superfast connectivity and raise the level of ambition for digital infrastructure
13. Review the planning system and property regulations to increase the supply of affordable office space for startups

Bring laws and regulations into the 21st Century
14. Make it government policy to support disruptive innovation and create an environment where people and businesses can adapt
15. Encourage permissionless innovation
16. Commit more resources to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO)
17. Create a framework for data protection that gives confidence to consumers and does not stifle innovation
18. Continue to support fintech innovation
19. Review regulations surrounding collaborative consumption and the ‘sharing economy’

Use digital government to unlock innovation
20. Make it easier for startups to sell to government
21. Commit to keep and expand the Government Digital Service
22. Create standards for secure online identity assurance
23. Accelerate progress towards ‘Government as a Platform’, including releasing APIs for government services
24. Go further on open data, including real-time performance dashboards for all government services

Here are the Startup founders and CEOs backing the manifesto:

Adnan Ebrahim (Founder and CEO, Car Throttle)
Alastair Mitchell (Founder and CEO, Huddle)
Alex Chesterman (Founder and CEO, Zoopla)
Alex Saint and Tom Valentine (CEO and MD, Secret Escapes)
Alex Stephany (CEO, JustPark)
Alexander Trewby (Co-Founder Divide)
Angus Bankes (CEO, JustAddRed)
Andrew Crump (CEO, Mitoo)
Andrew Fisher (Executive Chairman, Shazam)
Andrew Fogg (Co-Founder,
Andrew Jervis (Co-Founder, ClickMechanic)
Andrew Mullinger (Co-Founder Funding Circle and angel investor)
Andrew J Scott (Serial Entreprenuer)
Andy Phillipps (Chairman, Reevoo)
Anil Stocker (Co-Founder and CEO, MarketInvoice)
Arnaud Bertrand (Founder and President, HouseTrip)
Ayan Mitra (Founder and CEO, CrowdBnk)
Bernhard Niesner (Co-Founder and CEO,
Brendan Gill (CEO, OpenSignal)
Brett Harding (Co-Founder and MD, Lovestruck)
Celia Francis (CEO, WeeWorld)
Chris Morton (Co-Founder and CEO, Lyst)
Chris Thorpe (Founder, I Can Make)
Courtney Boyd Meyers (Founder,
Damian Kimmelman (Founder and CEO, DueDil)
Damian Lyons-Lowe (CEO, Survation)
Dan Bladen (Founder and CEO, Chargifi)
Debbie Wosskow (Founder and CEO, LoveHomeSwap)
Drummond Gilbert (Founder and CEO, GoCarShare)
Edward Asiedu (Co-Founder and CEO, Callectiv)
Ed Bussey (Founder and CEO, Quill Content)
Errol Damelin (Founder, Wonga, and angel investor)
Ewan Marshall (Founder, Speakset)
Filip Perkon, (Founder and CEO of Alumnee)
Florian Meissner (Co-Founder & CEO, EyeEm)
Frank Mukhanana (Founder, QuidCycle)
Fraser Robinson (Founder and CEO, Taggstar)
Gareth Knight (Founder, Wedo)
George Spencer (CEO, Rentify)
Giles Andrews (Co-Founder and CEO, Zopa)
Henrik Bohman (Founder, Postnado)
Henry Catchpole (Founder and CEO, Inform Direct)
Henry de Zoete (Co-Founder, The Big Deal)
Henry Firth (Founder and Ceo, PingTune)
Hiroki Takeuchi (Co-founder and CEO, GoCardless)
Hugo Burge (CEO Momondo Group & Co-Founder HOWZAT Partners)
Ivan Mazour (CEO, Ometrian and Founding Partner, Innova Capital)
Jack Tang (Co-Founder and CEO, Urban Massage)
Jag Singh (Founder, MessageSpace)
James Bromley and Richard Gibson (COO and CFO SwiftKey)
James Elder (Co-founder, The Beans Group)
James Gambrell (CEO,
James Lumb (CEO,
James Walker (CEO, NewsFixed)
Javier Ramirez (Founder, Teowaki)
Jeff Lynn (Founder and CEO, Seedrs)
Jeremy Walker (CEO, NewsFixed)
Joe Cohen (Founder, Seatwave)
Joelle Hadfield (Co-Founder and CEO, FIGHTME)
John Bethell (Co-Founder, Trot ON)
Jon Harris (Founder, Simpl)
Jonathan Brech (CEO, Korrall)
Dr Jonathan Milner (Founder and CEO, Abcam)
Josh Valman (MD, RPD International)
Jozef Wallace (Co-founder, Toothpick)
Julian Ranger (Founder, SocialSafe, and angel investor)
Juliana Meyer (Founder and CEO, SupaPass)
Keld van Schreven (CoFounder, SmartTrade App)
Kevin McDonagh (CEO, Novoda)
Laura Lambert (Founder, Befittd)
Leo Anthias (Co-Founder, Kivo)
Levi Russell (Founder and CEO, Zonerider Networks)
Lopo Champalimaud (Co-Founder and CEO, Wahanda)
Luke Lang and Darren Westlake (Director and CEO, Crowdcube)
Luke Marsden (Co-Founder, ClusterHQ)
Marcus Sandberg (Founder, Proleads)
Martin Rigby (Founder, Psonar)
Matthias Metternich (Co-Founder & CEO,
Matthew Hammett (Founder, Readbug)
Maxwell Painter (Chief executive of Unrival)
Mike Minnett (Founder, The Positive Ageing Co)
Nelson Sivalingam (Founder, One Minute London)
Nick Thain (CEO, Sports New Media)
Patrick Charlton (Founder and Director, Buzz Radar)
Paul Anson (CEO, LumeJet)
Paul Joyce and Rob Hudson (CEO and CTO, Geckoboard)
Phil Hutcheon (Founder, DICE)
Pratik Sampat (Founder, iHorizon)
Raf Keustermans (Co-founder and CEO, Plumbee)
Raj Ramanandi (Partner at #1seed, and CEO Pocket Social)
Rajeeb Dey (Founder, enternships)
Ricardo Zacconi (CEO, King)
Richard Moross (Founder, MOO)
Richard Muirhead (CEO, automic and Managing Partner,
Rikke Rosenlund (Co-founder, BorrowMyDoggy)
Robyn Exton (CEO, Dattch)
Robyn Scott (Co-Founder, OneLeap)
Rohan Luvaglio (Founder, Bizzby)
Rhydian Lewis (Founder, Ratesetter)
Russell Gould (Managing Director, Everline)
Rytis Vitkauskas (Founder, YPlan)
Sam Oakley (Co-Founder, Stashmetrics)
Samir Desai (Co-Founder and CEO, Funding Circle)
Sarah Wood (Co-Founder and COO, Unruly)
Shane Frith (Director,
Simon Campbell (Founder and CEO, The Sandpit)
Simon Hill (Co-Founder and CEO, wazoku)
Sokratis Papafloratos (Co-Founder and CEO, Togethera)
Spencer Hyman (Co-Founder Cocoa Runners and
Stef Lewandowski (Co-Founder, Makeshift)
Stephen Rapoport (Founder, Pact Coffee)
Steven Renwick (Founder, Satago)
Taavet Hinrikus (Co-Founder, TransferWise)
Tarek Nseir (CEO, Th_nk)
Tayfun Bilsel (Founder and CEO, Clinked)
Tobias van Amstel (Co-Founder and CEO, signkick)
Tom Allen (Founder, Metable)
Tom Raffe (Founder, Screenburn)
Tom Watson (Co-Founder, Spacious)
Victor Henning (Co-Founder and CEO, Mendeley)
Vincent Thome (Founder, Nuji)
Warren Smith (CEO,
Yoav Zingher (Co-Founder, Kiwipowered)

VCs, incubators and other supporters backing the Manifesto:

Alex Macpherson and Alliott Cole (Managing Director and Director, Octopus Investments)
Alisha Mody, (Global Strategy Director, Uffindell Group)
Ben Southworth (Co-founder, 3beards)
Collette Ballou (Founder, Ballou PR)
Christian Hernandez (Managing Partner, White Star Capital)
Christian Thaler-Wolski (Venture Partner, Wellington Partners)
Daniel Waterhouse (General Partner, Balderton Capital)
David Bailey (Partner, Merryns LLP)
David Gammon (CEO, Rockspring)
Davor Hebel (Partner, Fidelity Growth Partners Europe)
Eileen Burbidge, Robert Dighero and Stefan Glaenzer (Partners, Passion Capital)
Eric Van der Kleij (Head of Level39)
Evgeny Shadchnev (Co-Founder and CEO, Maker’s Academy)
Gerard Grech (CEO, Tech City UK)
Haakon Overli (General Partner, Dawn Capital)
James Bilefield (Angel investor and advisor)
Jennifer Arcuri (Founder, InnoTech Summit)
Joe Scarboro (Director of operations, 3beards)
John Henderson (Principal, White Star Capital)
John Taysom (Investor and advisor)
Jon Bradford (MD, Techstars London)
Josh Russell (Angel investor and advisor)
Julian Carter (Co-Founder and MD, EC1 Capital)
Julie Meyer (Managing Partner, Ariadne Capital Entrepreneurs Fund, and Founder, First Tuesday and EntrepreneurCountry)
Matthew Clifford (Co-Founder, Entrepreneur First)
Milo Yiannopoulos (Associate Editor, Breitbart and Founder, The Kernel)
Monty Munford (Founder, Mob76)
Nic Brisbourne (Managing Partner, Forward Partners)
Raph Crouan (MD, StartupBootCamp IoT)
Reshma Sohoni (Co-Founder and Partner, Seedcamp)
Robin Klein (Partner, Index Ventures)
Rory Stirling (Partner, MMC Ventures)
Russ Shaw (Founder, Tech London Advocates)
Sanford Dickert (Co-Founder and Director, Rawlings Atlantic)
Saul Klein (Partner, Index Ventures)
Simon Murdoch (Partner, Episode 1)
Simon Walker (Director General, Institute of Directors)
Sonali De Rycker (Partner, Accel Partners)
Sophie Eden (Co-founder, Gordon and Eden)
Thomas Labarthe, (MD of Lookout Europe)
Tim Jackson (Partner, Lean Investments)
Tom Hulme (Founder and Director OpenIDEO and OIEngine)

Disclosures: The Coadec non-profit organisation was originally founded by Mike Butcher and Jeff Lynn, founder of Seedrs. Seedrs backs the Manifesto. Butcher remains on the board of Coadec advisors and is also a director of TechHub, a Coadec sponsor.