Politics aren’t just for election time, and while they might not be at the front of your mind when you’re working on a venture, matters of business and policy often have close ties. Coadec (the Coaltion for a Digital Economy) aims to give a voice to startups on political issues, and I spoke to new executive director Guy Levin about their campaigns to support the digital economy.
“Our purpose is to campaign for policies to support digital startups, so I engage with policymakers and attempt to influence the debate,” he said of his day-to-day job. Recently that’s included meeting with civil servants to discuss the Civil Rights Bill, speaking in parliament about tech policy, and writing about the impact of a recent European ruling on data protection.
Ahead of next year’s general election, Coadec is also launching a “Startup Manifesto” to engage policy debate on relevant issues, and if you’re part of a startup now you can get involved by taking part in an initial survey. Levin explained that Coadec is free for startups to join, and gets sponsorship from the likes of Google, TechHub, and iHorizon.
I asked what he thought the major issues facing startups right now were and he said that, overall, the UK is in a good place—“But this masks significant improvements that are needed, and some serious long term challenges.”
Unsurprisingly, first up is finance. “EIS (the Enterprise Investment Scheme) and SEIS (Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme) have been fantastic for early stage finance,” Levin said. “Increasingly, however, I'm hearing that startups are finding it hard to raise VC funding at A-round and beyond.” He wants policymakers to explore how to bridge that gap.
Second on most startups’ agenda is immigration; in Levin’s view, “the UK makes it too hard both for a would-be entrepreneur to come to the UK to found their business, and for existing startups to bring in talent from outside the EU.”
In the long-term, issues like regulation, net neutrality, and data protection are top of the agenda to encourage innovation.
Levin encourages startups to get involved by sharing their views and engaging with the manifesto. You can also attend events and keep up with policy news by subscribing to their weekly briefing. “I'd like more startups to be involved—to recognise the impact that policy can have on their business, and that they can help shape it,” said Levin.
Follow Vicki on Twitter @VickiTurk
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