Westminster eForum

Since lockdown, we have been organising our full programme of conferences online. We will continue online until further notice, to ensure we play our part in helping our employees and delegates to remain safe during this time. We are pleased that so many key stakeholders, policymakers and other interested parties - both old friends and new delegates - are taking up the opportunity to discuss public policy issues and network at our impartial seminars. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time. So there are plenty of opportunities for you to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are. For booking-related queries, or information on speaking, please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7538736244 / +44 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7951044809.
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Next steps for supporting trade and investment for the UK tech sector

Morning, Friday, 30th April 2021

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference is examining priorities and next steps for increasing international trade and export markets for the UK tech sector - looking at priorities for government support and initiatives, and for attracting investment.

It will be a timely opportunity to assess the landscape of the UK tech sector following the end of the transition from the EU, and the UK’s new positioning in global markets.

Areas for discussion include:

  • opportunities - how can UK tech businesses tap into new demands domestically and in global markets, particularly with the pandemic increasing the need for innovation and new ways of working
  • the UK’s international competitiveness - and priorities for future trade deals and negotiations, as well as the UK’s positioning in emerging economies, including Asia Pacific
  • maintaining momentum - building on strong investment trends in UK tech going forward
  • spreading benefits across the UK - encouraging investment in the tech industry across the regions and nations, and linking with local industrial strategies and City Deals
  • SMEs - assessing the support they need to access global markets and investment
  • skills - looking at attracting global and domestic talent, diversity, and educational pathways and professional development

The discussion is bringing together stakeholders with policy officials who are due to attend from DIT; BEIS; the Cabinet Office; DCMS; the DfE; the DIT; the DfT; GCHQ; the Geospatial Commission; the Government Legal Department; the Government Office for Science; HMRC; HM Treasury; the Home Office; the MoD; the MoJ; and the Welsh Government.

The agenda

  • Priorities for the UK tech sector following transition from the EU and as it moves on from COVID-19
  • Tackling the challenges facing the UK tech sector - supporting UK-based tech startups, attracting investment, adapting to new ways of working, and the impact of the pandemic
  • Putting in place the skills needed to drive sector growth - education and professional development, diversity, and attracting talent
  • Developing a future trade strategy for the UK tech industry - exploiting key opportunities in international trade and export markets, and linking with local industrial strategies
  • Future trade and wider opportunities for the UK tech sector

A scan of relevant developments:

  • London: Europe’s global tech city - reports showing that London-based tech companies attracted a record $10.5bn in investments in 2020, ahead of all other European cities, with research indicating further growth in the UK’s tech sector in 2021
  • the Future Tech Trade Strategy - the government strategy seeking to boost digital trade and establish the UK tech industry as a global player, including through:
    • Digital Trade Network (DTN) - launched to support UK SMEs entering Asian markets, with new guidance outlining key issues tech SMEs should consider as they weigh the benefits and risks of commercial ventures, published in response to sector demands
    • the Tech Export Academy - supporting Asia-Pacific expansion for UK companies in smart transport and infrastructure, smart cities, and cyber security sectors, through virtual trade missions and business advice
    • support for international engagement - DIT platform to help mitigate the impact on firms unable to attend international industry events and investor meetings
    • further measures - a new network to support international partnerships for English regions, expansion of DIT’s High Potential Opportunities tech programme, and promotion of UK Fintech following the launch of the new Leading Edge programme for connecting international banks with UK Fintech solutions
    • UAE and UK launch sovereign investment partnership with initial £1 billion in life sciences - a coordinated investment framework to grow a future-focused relationship that will invest in tech and innovation-led sectors over a five year period
  • New Office for Investment to drive foreign investment into the UK - aimed at:
    • providing more structured support as global competition intensifies
    • delivering channel expertise
    • attracting foreign investment
    • helping build the UK tech sector’s reputation abroad
  • Budget 2021 - new measures announced by the Chancellor: 
    • Future Fund: Breakthrough - £375m government investment in innovative companies, including in quantum computing and clean tech, that are aiming to raise at least £20m of funding
    • the Help to Grow Scheme - beginning later this year, small and medium sized businesses will have access to programmes aimed at boosting digital and management skills
    • review into tax reliefs in Research & Development as part of its target to raise total investment in research and development to 2.4% of UK GDP by 2027 
  • HMG launches Export Growth Plan to help businesses - including a focus on regional UK development and a £38m Internationalisation Fund for SMEs looking to expand into overseas markets
  • Tech for Growth - the Government’s programme to grow the role of technology in expanding access to financial services future trading opportunities between the UK and emerging economies
  • Joe White appointed Technology Envoy to the USA - to support the UK’s tech sector and further the UK’s relationship with the US tech community
  • Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership - the UK has formally requested membership of the CPTPP, with the aim of boosting employment and innovation within the UK tech sector, with data flowing more freely between the UK and the CPTPP’s 11 members, including economies such as Malaysia, Vietnam and Mexico
  • increasing demand for UK tech visas - expected to continue in 2021 through EU applications following the end of the Transition Period
  • skills - recent reports suggesting the UK tech sector’s growth could see the skills gap narrow, as research shows an uptake in online tech training courses and over 55% of non-tech-workers considering or beginning to move into tech-based roles

Policy officials attending:

Places have been reserved by officials from the Department for International Trade; BEIS; the Cabinet Office; DCMS; the Department for Education; the Department for International Trade; the Department for Transport; GCHQ; the Geospatial Commission; the Government Legal Department; HM Revenue and Customs; the Home Office; the Ministry of Defence; the Ministry of Justice; and the Welsh Government.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording and transcript to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Keynote Speakers

Gerard Grech

CEO, Tech Nation

Oriel Petry

Director, Technology and Advanced Manufacturing, Department for International Trade

Johanna Beresford

Chief Executive Officer, In Diverse Company

Keynote Speakers

Gerard Grech

CEO, Tech Nation

Oriel Petry

Director, Technology and Advanced Manufacturing, Department for International Trade

Johanna Beresford

Chief Executive Officer, In Diverse Company


Baroness Ritchie

Vice Chair, APPG on Trade and Export Promotion

Chi Onwurah MP

Shadow Minister for Science, Research and Digital


Speaker confirmed from Burges Salmon

Simon Staffell

UK Government Affairs Manager, Microsoft

Alison Webster

Chief Executive Officer, Thames Valley Berkshire LEP

Paul O’Donnell

Public Affairs Director, The Institute of Export and International Trade

Sabina Ciofu

Head of EU and Trade Policy, techUK

Steven Revill

Chief Executive Officer, UrbanTide

Maya Pindeus

Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, Humanising Autonomy

Parker Webb-Mitchell

Manager of Technical Delivery, nCino

Jeff Lynn

Executive Chairman and Co-Founder, Seedrs

Dr Leslie Kanthan

CEO, DataSpartan