From the top Fred Heritage · 17 June 2016
Ed Vaizey exclusive: Being part of Europe’s single market allows our tech startups to thrive
Since assuming office as minister of state for culture, communications and creative industries in 2010, Ed Vaizey has become an increasingly influential figure in government, shaping small business policy. His responsibilities span the Departments for Business, Innovation &’skills (BIS) and Culture, Media and Sport, and he has made it his job to shape and direct digital economic policy working to cement Britain’s status as a global leader in the digital industries. As such, Business Advice included Vaizey in its inaugural list of the country’s 30 key Small Business Decision Makers in 2016. We chewed the fat with Vaizey at Runway East one of the UK’s most revered shared working spaces for young and innovative tech startups in central London’s Tech City. In an exclusive interview, Vaizey emphasised to Business Advice the importance of tackling cyber security for Britain’s small business owners, pointing to his ongoing Cyber Essentials initiative as evidence that the government has made considerable steps in tackling the issue. He stressed, however, that his current focus was on ensuring tech companies received all the information needed to achieve the best outcome when Britain goes to the polls to vote in the EU referendum on 23 June. from a small business perspective, the Leave campaign talks a lot about the burdensome regulation the EU creates, but to think that if we leave the EU well be a regulation-free country is farcical. we have one of the least regulated labour markets of any developed nation. Only the Netherlands has a similar model a fellow EU member. it’s one of the reasons our economy does so well. Vaizey warned that tech companies could be among the first to disregard the UK if it decides to leave the EU, emphasising that the frictionless? freedom of movement across European borders was one of the principle reasons why Britain, and London in particular, has become such an attractive tech hub. at the moment London is the default European city young tech companies want to come to, especially from the US. But I know how keen countries like France and Germany are to attract inward investment. A couple of years after a Brexit vote, and these tech firms might be looking towards Berlin or Paris instead, Vaizey went on to say. As a firm believer in the value of the European single market, having access to the tech talent among Europe’s 500m citizens is not something Vaizey would like the country to give up. He staunchly believes the EU adds value on top of the decisions made in Westminster, and that Britain is far better off having a seat at the table. He added: Ive always been a bit of a Eurosceptic, and don’t like over-regulation, especially in the digital industries, but as the EU campaign has gone on Ive become more and more convinced Brexit would be a disaster for the country.
ABOUT THE EXPERTFred Heritage
Fred Heritage was previously deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London.