London could lose its position as the leading destination for start-ups in Europe thanks to Brexit.
Tech investors moaned at the TechCrunch Disrupt London conference, that the government needed to answer shedloads of questions around immigration policy.
James Wise, partner at venture capital firm Balderton Capital, said that Britain employed 31 percent of all the people in Europe working in tech start-ups, and a significant number of them had moved to the country to start their businesses.
Government initiatives to support the tech sector were welcome Wise said, but the British government needed to show more leadership and clarify the many questions hanging over the free movement of talent.
“The number one concern is still access to talent, and while the raft of announcements are all very welcome, very few of them deal with the ability to attract global talent to the UK to build companies here,” he told Reuters.
Reshma Sohoni, a partner with Seedcamp, which invests in early stage companies, said funding for such companies had tightened considerably since the Brexit vote.
“We definitely see a narrowing of the kind of companies that can get series A or series B funding,” Sohoni said, referring to early rounds of venture funding that young companies need to grow. “Combining the uncertainty and the trouble getting visas, absolutely it (Brexit) is a problem,” she said at the event.
Matt Hancock, minister for the digital economy, said Britain needed “to be open and welcoming to the brightest and best from around the world” and not just the EU.
“Over the last few years, we’ve had freedom of movement within the European Union but outside we’ve had a fairly tight visa system, and we need to make sure we are clearly attracting and winning the global war for talent,” he told the assorted throngs.
“We’ve been doing this with visas for individual countries over the past few years, improving significantly for instance the visa system for China. Clearly we’ve got to get this right.”