We are a world leader in tech. Following our departure from the European Union, we have launched a new GREAT campaign that promotes everything from our agri-tech to our gaming capabilities. The Under-Secretary of State, my hon. Friend Graham Stuart, recently led a delegation to Las Vegas where he promoted UK tech at the Consumer Electronics Show.
To meet the challenges of our time, we must ensure that we create an environment where we encourage tech start-ups to set up, thrive and innovate. What are the Secretary of State and Ministers doing to ensure that tech start-ups in the west midlands are able to fulfil their potential?
Birmingham has the largest tech sector outside London. It has firms specialising in FinTech, games, health-tech and cyber-security. We will keep the UK at the top of the investment tree. Last year we saw investment in UK tech growing faster than in any other nation in the world. We need to keep at the forefront, and there are huge opportunities for our tech industry.
After we have left the European Union, we have a huge opportunity to strike new data and digital agreements with the rest of the world. We are looking for a data and digital chapter in the US FTA. We are looking for an advanced data and digital chapter with Japan. We have the opportunity to create a global powerhouse here in the UK.
As the Secretary of State said, the UK is a world leader in future technology, yet it is also assessed to be one of the sectors most at risk from Brexit. Therefore, new opportunities for tech sector start-ups are absolutely important. The Department was recently criticised by tech sector magazines for cutting funding for the tradeshow access programme, which is used by entrepreneurs in the tech sector to get to potential clients overseas. So will she set out what funding will be available, and with what long-term guarantees for those SMEs and start-ups, so that they can make the best of opportunities through the TAP?
I disagree with the premise of the hon. Lady’s question. Now that we have left the EU, we have the opportunity to set our own rules and regulations in tech, and really lead the world in areas like artificial intelligence and blockchain. That is exactly what we are seeking to do with these new free trade agreements. We are also seeking, at the World Trade Organisation, to lead in areas like the joint statement on e-commerce, and looking for new SME-friendly chapters in our trade deals to help exactly these types of tech start-ups to sell their goods around the world.