We are confident the digital technology sector and its startup community will continue to go from strength to strength. As outlined in our Digital Strategy and Charter, our ambition is to ensure the UK is the best place in the world to start and grow a digital business - and that ambition remains after we leave the EU. Tech Nation and Dealroom have released figures showing that investment in UK tech reached £6.8 billion ($8.7bn) last year and has already reached £3.8 billion ($4.8bn) in the first half of 2019, showing that the UK tech ecosystem is still world-leading and remains in a strong position.
Through our extensive engagement with the sector, we understand that the primary barriers to growth for startups are having adequate access to both finance and talent. That is why for finance, Government announced a new £2.5 billion British Patient Capital programme, which is expected to attract a further £5 billion in private investment, in order to support UK companies with high growth potential to access the long-term investment they need to grow and go global.
To continue to attract international talent, we have doubled the number of Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visas to 2,000, and taken doctors and nurses out of the Tier 2 visa cap, freeing up many more skilled worker visas to other sectors, including tech. At the end of March this year, Home Office launched the new Start-Up and Innovator visa routes for entrepreneurs, which will replace a route exclusively for graduates, opening it up to other talented business founders.
In the Autumn Budget 2017 we also announced investment of £21 million to expand Tech City UK into a nationwide network – Tech Nation – aimed at accelerating the growth of the digital tech sector across the country. The funding will help Tech Nation support 40,000 entrepreneurs and up to 4,000 start-ups as they scale their businesses across the UK including Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, and Newcastle. And at London Tech Week last week, the PM launched a study into tech competitiveness - this will identify key opportunities and support mechanisms for business growth in the digital tech sector.