British tech leaders publish manifesto for digital innovation domination

The Startup Manifesto has brought together 182 UK entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and academics in an effort to protect Britain's status as a world leader in the digital market.

Led by the Coalition for a Digital Economy (Coadec), a set of demands and suggestions have been outlined to the next government for how policy can be brought into the 21st century for technology start-ups.

Individuals from the likes of Index Ventures, Seedcamp, and YPlan are part of a united voice pushing The Startup Manifesto.

The move is led by Coadec executive director Guy Levin who says that political parties interested in creating jobs, fostering innovation and making Britain a world leader in technology should give the manifesto a read.

Coadec's Guy Levin

Guy Levin has the backing of over 150 digital start-ups and entrepreneurs

Central to the recommendations put forward are the continued cutting of taxes for entrepreneurs – ranging from reducing national insurance contributions to preserving the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme and Enterprise Investment Scheme through the next government sitting. The group of business leaders would also like to see a return of tax reliefs for corporate venture capital and the removal of the cap on Entrepreneurs’ Relief alongside a lowering of the equity threshold.

Bruce Macfarlane, managing partner at MMC Ventures, says, ‘Much has been said of the equity gap which exists for early-stage businesses in the UK  – while many manage to raise seed funds to get their idea off the ground, bringing on board Series A venture capital can be an uphill struggle. This is why it is imperative that schemes such as EIS exist to bridge this gap.’

On the subject of improving access to talent for UK tech start-ups, the manifesto suggests bringing back both post-study work visas for STEM graduates and the Graduate Entrepreneur Visa. The existing Entrepreneur Visa should also be made available to those who have secured funding from angel investors and crowdfunding platforms, it says.

Laws and regulations also need to be brought into the 21st century, The Startup Manifesto declares, starting with creating an environment where ‘people and businesses can adapt’. Also mooted are calls to commit more resources to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), review regulations surrounding the ‘sharing economy’, encouraging permissionless innovation and giving consumer confidence when it comes to data protection.

Robin Klein, partner at Index Ventures and one of the manifesto endorsers, comments, ‘The progress made during the past few years towards making the UK the best place in the world to start and run a company has been significant.

‘There is however much more to be done. This manifesto is packed with practical ideas which in aggregate would make further meaningful strides towards the UK’s goal.’

Index Ventures partner Robin Klein

Robin Klein helped to develop the High Growth Segment of the London Stock Exchange

Amongst the founders and start-up CEOs backing the initiative are Zoopla’s Alex Chesterman, Secret Escape’s Alex Saint, DueDil’s Damian Kimmelman, Wonga’s Errol Damelin and’s Richard Moross.

Moross, who set up digital print products business in 2004, adds, ‘There are some brilliant success stories that have come from the UK start-ups scene, but we shouldn’t stop there.

‘It’s important that we are nurturing new ideas and talent as entrepreneurs work tirelessly to get their ideas off the ground. It’s vital we help them to bring their ideas to life and make a living, not just for themselves but for the hundreds of people they just may take along with them.’

On bringing together the government and digital innovation, the manifesto urges the powers that be to make it easier for start-ups to sell to government. It would like to see the maintaining and expansion of the Government Digital Service, the creation of secure online identity assurance and an acceleration of Government as a Platform so that APIs can be released for government services.

Shadow business secretary and Labour MP Chuka Umunna says, ‘We want to see more people starting up, leading and working in business and the creation of high-skilled, better-paid jobs.

‘Britain’s burgeoning digital economy has a huge role to play in meeting both of these challenges, and that’s why Coadec’s manifesto is right to emphasise the importance of digital start-ups as well as the need to foster digital skills.’

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter was the Editor for from 2012 to 2014, before moving on to Caspian Media Ltd to be Editor of Real Business.