Budgets, life sciences, space and a visiting UK tech sector specialist

August 03, 2015 @ 1:25 AM

I was invited to talk to a Seattle-based group of angel investors in June about the advantages of choosing the UK as a gateway for business to Europe.   There are plenty of compelling arguments, like the strength and diversity of the UK economy, a low corporate tax, a talented and flexible workforce.  Let alone the language and time zone advantages and flight connections.  But it takes effort to remain competitive.  UK Chancellor George Osborne Chancellor’s 2015 Summer Budget does that.  The Chancellor’s budget on 8 July reported that the UK was the fastest growing economy in 2014 and will lead the pack again this year.  He announced plans to cut the corporate tax rate to 18% by 2020 and move the budget into surplus by 2019.  All the while committing the UK to the NATO target of spending 2% of our GDP on defence. He defined it as a budget for economic, financial and national security.

We had some exciting news for Seattle’s Virginia Mason Institute.  On 16 July, UK Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced a groundbreaking new partnership between the National Health Service (NHS) and Virginia Mason, “the world’s safest hospital”.   Under this 5-year partnership, Virginia Mason CEO Dr Gary Kaplan and his team will visit doctors, nurses and leaders in five NHS trusts and mentor them on improving patient safety and patient care.  All the while, eliminating waste.  Another life sciences celebration was the Paul Allen Family Foundation’s award of an Allen Distinguished Investigator grant to Cambridge University for research into Alzheimer’s Disease.   I look forward to celebrating more examples of UK/Seattle research collaborations.

Sticking with the innovation theme, I’m going to have to pay more attention to the space sector.  It’s exciting that Seattle’s secured next year’s NewSpace Conference and I hope we’ll be able to encourage some participation at it from the UK’s space sector.  The 2015 UK Space Conference held in Liverpool in July reported that the UK space sector already employs 37,000 people, is worth £11.8 billion a year and hopes to grow to £40 billion by 2030, building on work already being done in Scotland, Surrey, Oxford and Bristol on small satellites, satellite-based services, communications and applications.  And we’re even looking at a spaceport too.

UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) Technology Sector specialist Chris Moore is planning to visit Seattle during the week of 17 August.  Chris helps companies explore research and development opportunities in the UK.  So if you’re thinking of setting up a development team in the UK or creating further links with UK universities, then Chris would be the ideal person to meet with.   Please e-mail my San Francisco colleague Jaclyn Mason (Head of Trade and Investment) at Jaclyn.mason@fco.gov.uk if this is of interest to you.

Robin Twyman
Consul (Business and Government Affairs), Seattle