Kemi Badenoch – 2023 Speech at London Tech Week

The speech made by Kemi Badenoch, the Secretary of State for Business and Trade, at London Tech Week on 13 June 2023.

Good evening ladies and gentlemen.

It’s a pleasure to be here at the flagship event for the Department for Business and Trade on the tenth anniversary of London Tech Week.

This Government has a clear mission: to make the UK the most innovative economy in the world and cement our status as a Science and Technology Superpower.

As the Business and Trade Secretary, I see it as my job to create the best possible business conditions to encourage innovative tech companies to start-up, invest and expand.

The door of my Department is always open. We want to hear your concerns, celebrate your successes, and ensure that the Government is doing what it can for the real innovators and wealth creators.

And we’re starting from a good base.

The UK’s technology landscape is diverse and thriving, with a vibrant startup culture and a robust ecosystem that fosters innovation and provides significant opportunities for investors.

We are home to some of the world’s most successful tech companies, including DeepMind, Graphcore and Darktrace, to name just a few.

Last year, the UK became just the third country in the world to have a tech sector valued at $1 trillion, with more ‘unicorn’ billion-dollar tech startups being created than Germany, France and Sweden combined.

During 2022, fast-growing UK tech companies raised near-record levels of funding at £24 billion.

And in support of this success, Government has committed to £20 billion per year in R&D over the next two years.

Because we want to create an environment that supports tech investment and entrepreneurship.

Now, some people around the globe have seen recent decisions taken here and said it means Britain is not open for business.

Let’s not forget those voices have clear skin in the game and speak in their own interests, and perhaps not always for the value and importance of protecting fair and open competition.

We all depend on the products and services that big tech companies provide in our daily lives… and we all love a success story, but smaller start-ups need competitive markets if they are to grow into the success stories of tomorrow.

The kind of competition where tech firms compete, prosper and thrive.

That’s why the UK is providing what tech investors actually want: a highly skilled and engaged workforce and an ecosystem built to grow large scale investments.

Part of this is ensuring that regulation is fit for purpose. I recently announced a new Smarter Regulation Framework that commits to regulating only as a last resort, and where industry standards and free markets have failed.

This is the right thing to do. Less regulation means greater innovation, and driven by that enduring spirit of innovation, the UK is a place with all the right ingredients for tech success.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we are open for business.

And that’s why I’m excited to announce the launch of our new global tech awards, promoting the benefits of the UK ecosystem around the world.

Building on the success of our Tech Rocketship Awards, our Unicorn Kingdom: Pathfinder Awards 2023 will identify the brightest and best tech companies around the world. Winners will be flown to the UK and given support to help them accelerate their business growth.

And while I’m talking about growth, I’m sure you are all aware that it was just a few weeks ago that we agreed our accession to the CPTPP – the UK’s biggest trade agreement since we left the EU – which promises huge potential for the UK economy.

Such trade deals are often framed as being all about tariffs and the trading of physical goods, but they’re about much more.

What we actually gain from signing new trade deals and joining new trading blocs is forging new strategic partnerships that can spur collaboration, promote investment, and which encourage innovation, dynamism and creativity.

London Tech Week is absolute proof of that, as we welcome the biggest ever Asia Pacific delegation this year, including investment funds worth £100 billion.

The thriving relationship between the tech sectors of the UK and APAC – the fastest growing region of the world – is one that we’re determined to strengthen.

For this reason, it is my great pleasure to say that the APAC Digital Trade Network, which seeks to raise the profile and accelerate the expansion of UK technology in Asia will expand its coverage to two new markets – Vietnam and Taiwan.

And I’m also pleased to announce that it has appointed Oxfordshire-based Intralink to take the reins and deliver tailored support across 11 APAC markets, ensuring UK tech firms get the support they need to trade and flourish in this fast-growing and vibrant part of the world.

I want the Department for Business and Trade to be an office for economic growth, and I see a key part of that ambition as harnessing the power of technology to drive growth, create jobs, and solve the world’s most pressing challenges.

With your support and collaboration I am confident that a UK… unashamedly and unquestionably open for business… is well placed to lead the way in the tech revolution.

Thank you.