The future of Brexit?

As businesses across the country struggled to comprehend what the June referendum might mean for their industries, we canvassed a range of thought-leaders to discover how they viewed Britain’s post-Brexit landscape.

London: Everyone Welcome poster by David Shrigley, part of the London is Open campaign London: Everyone Welcome poster by David Shrigley, part of the London is Open campaign

It would be foolish for a futurologist to claim to know precisely how Brexit will affect Britain and the wider world. We live in a time where headline news is quickly forgotten, and where what was unthinkable one day is inevitable the next. The result of the EU referendum took many mainstream commentators by surprise, and while Prime Minster Theresa May has made a slogan out of ‘Brexit means Brexit’, many of us are still questioning what, exactly, that means.

Rather than rush to rash conclusions, we have taken the opportunity to canvas our network of experts to gain a multitude of perspectives on the challenges and potential opportunities that lie ahead. From co-founder of the Creative Industries Federation John Kampfner to policy adviser Simon Anholt, we have brought a selection of voices together into this one microsite. We may not be able to predict exactly how Brexit will evolve, but by seeking the right strategic advice we can better prepare for what lies ahead.

Trevor Hardy, CEO, The Future Laboratory Trevor Hardy, CEO, The Future Laboratory

For years, there has been a growing and clear sense that speed is good, that it should be aspired to. That speed in decision-making, action, consumption and response signals modernity, accomplishment and dynamism. We see it in our jobs, where roles change at a faster rate, we see it in our voracious consumption and rapid disposal of news, and we see it in our relationships, with marriages not only coming to an end more frequently, but more quickly too.

In the case of Brexit, our need for speed has let us down. Whether you voted to leave or remain, one thing is certain – we rushed into a ‘the single greatest decision for a generation’. We all felt compelled to be on one side or the other immediately. Many of us take more time to consider the pros and cons of reduced-salt baked beans over the original variety than we do on a decision that will shape our political, economic and cultural future.

If we do not take the space and time to consider possible futures, the road ahead becomes very uncertain, and that uncertainty is frightening. Whether it is Brexit, our pensions or our physical health, we have a growing and worrying inability to engage with distant threats. As Ralph L Keeney of North Carolina’s Duke University puts it: ‘America’s top killer isn’t cancer, heart disease, smoking or obesity. It’s our inability to overcome our own short-term behaviour.’

‘Fast’ is under attack in other aspects of life outside of the brutal political arena, including food, fashion, music, sex and travel. From the New Horizons space probe that had to travel for almost a decade before beginning its mission to the 12 years it took to make Richard Linklater’s film Boyhood, today’s most truly innovative brands and their customers are thinking in terms of years, decades and even centuries.

There is an emerging acceptance, especially among younger generations, that immediate gratification is leading to long-term regret. That a live-for-today approach might have caused irreparable harm to our bodies, businesses, communities and planet. These younger generations might be the ones that will embrace a long view so that they do not repeat the mistakes made by their parents, the ones that will think in terms of legacy, not missions, the ones that will consider their actions over ages rather than instants. They may be the ones that will set an example about the benefits of thinking long and slow.

The change of pace we are now seeing, which is slowing the rush towards a formal Brexit, should be warmly welcomed as a form of innovation in its own right. As infuriating as it must be for 24-hour news channels, the fact that we are taking our time before triggering Article 50 is a positive step towards taking a longer, more considered view. If the people behind the door at Number 10 are taking the time to pause, consider, plan and think long term before they act, then perhaps businesses can finally learn a thing or two from politics.

Trevor Hardy is CEO of The Future Laboratory

John Kampfner, CEO of the Creative Industries Federation John Kampfner, CEO of the Creative Industries Federation

In a survey we conducted on the question of EU membership in May, 96% of our members responded in favour of remaining in Europe and 84% believed that the outcome of the referendum was important to the future success of their organisation.

When the result was revealed on 24 June, it will therefore come as little surprise that we reacted with significant disappointment. By late Friday morning, however, we had already sent a message to our members calling for a collective regrouping, highlighting the pressing need for the creative industries to be proactive in placing ourselves at the heart of the debate on how we move forward as a nation.

Our own response to this provocation was to convene a series of meetings around the country to discuss what our course of action should now be. In our opening event on 7 July at King’s College London, creative industry and cultural education leaders met to hear a presentation from Barclays’ chief economist about what he believed the future might hold. In my opening remarks I made it clear that this was no time for lament, that whatever people wished for or felt, the only appropriate response was rolling up our sleeves and getting on with it in a very practical way. Events followed around the country, from Birmingham to Nottingham to Edinburgh. These will culminate within the next month in a presentation of our findings to the government. We are working with our colleagues at the Creative Industries Council on this because it is important to present a coherent set of recommendations to ministers to ensure the best possible outcome for the sector.

And we have already held some meetings with the new administration, whose arrival did much to cool the initial political and financial turbulence that were an unhelpful distraction from the deeper-seated medium- and long-term questions that we need to address. The impression we have is that the government will be driven by three priorities. The first is the direct Brexit negotiations, the terms of our future arrangement with Europe. The second is its industrial strategy, the indication being that it plans to be interventionist with regard to preserving and enabling growth across sectors, of which the creative industries is the most buoyant.

The third is what the government calls its ‘social cohesion plans’. While the previous two areas are overtly linked to the future of the creative industries in Britain, this last area also has some very strong lessons to be learned for our sector. The obvious discontent that led to the decision to leave Europe raises the question of what role the arts should play in better connecting to that angry body of opinion. Many people believe the arts are now seen by the wider public as the preserve of a metropolitan elite. If this is not simply a misperception, then in substantive terms, it needs to be tackled head on. This is one of our chief tasks for the future.

In our immediate reality, the results of the referendum are already being felt by some creative business leaders. There are anecdotal stories about EU nationals not taking up jobs offered by arts organisations. The uncertainty that has resulted from our imminent departure from the EU is also highly problematic for a sector that often relies on partnerships with institutions on the continent to ensure the feasibility of larger projects. The danger is that these EU bodies will now consider such joint initiatives as being too hot to handle. A French company might, for instance, now choose to take the path of least resistance by dealing with the German venue rather than their British counterpart. You don’t need to have hard evidence of policy problems to assess the validity of this concern; it is human nature that if you’re given the choice between something that is simple and something that is complicated, you will choose the former.

We believe that one answer to our current situation is to be more stridently internationalist than ever before. In a quirk of fate, the first meeting of our long-planned International Advisory Committee, a body designed to discover and share examples of best practice, policy and innovation in the creative industries and cultural education worldwide, took place at almost the exact moment that David Cameron was officially ceding power to Theresa May. It couldn’t have been stranger, or indeed better, timing, given the real sense of poignancy it raised about the question of what Britain’s place now is in the world. It is undoubtedly true that the creative industries are now our calling card as a nation around the globe. If the UK of five to 10 years hence is going to remain the outward-looking nation that has been so successful up to this point, then it will be in no small part down to the positive actions of our members today.

John Kampfner is CEO of the Creative Industries Federation

Simon Anholt, founder of The Good Country Simon Anholt, founder of The Good Country

I didn’t want Brexit. I was one of the 86% who voted for the UK to remain in the EU.

Yes, you read that figure correctly: 86% of people in 39 countries voted for Remain in the Global Vote. We lost that particular battle, but I have every hope we will win the war and live to see a new politics that recognises the essential interdependence of nations.

The Global Vote is a mechanism that enables people worldwide who are affected by elections and referenda to cast their vote, even if they are excluded by age or nationality from voting formally. For the same reason, the Global Vote is now allowing the 7.08bn people who can’t vote in the US election to have their say on which individual is next entrusted with the nuclear launch codes; and the 7.40bn people who don’t have a vote in the UN General Assembly can have their say on who becomes the world’s diplomat-in-chief for the next decade.

The EU was blamed in the referendum for a great many things that are wrong in British society, many of which have very little to do with our EU membership, and some of which the EU significantly mitigates, but that is neither here nor there. When you are offered one hammer and one nail, you’re likely to use them.

It’s not surprising if the EU is unloved: it has always suffered from the tendency of member state governments to take personal credit for every success of the EU, and to blame the EU for all their own failures. Until the EU finds a way of fixing that problem, it may be unable to avoid further damage.

All this is tragic, because the EU is one of the very few truly appropriate responses to the challenge of globalisation that humanity has devised. Thanks to globalisation, the problems that unite all of humanity are now much greater than the problems that divide us. Yet nations don’t collaborate nearly enough to resolve these challenges. Their governments are still fixated on competition, locked in an unending, destructive struggle to gain more money and power for their country and its industries. The member states of the EU are, to a significant degree, less guilty of this disastrous habit than most other nations.

Obviously, we need a change in the culture of governance worldwide. We need to learn how to harmonise collaboration and competition in our international affairs, just as industry has been doing since the 1970s. The next generations of leaders must accept that today, they are responsible not just for their own people, but for every man, woman, child and animal on the planet; not just for their own slice of territory, but for every square mile of the earth’s surface and the atmosphere above it. Today, we need good countries more than we need successful countries.

For now, Britain must look to the future and make the best of it we can. Nowhere is this more pertinent than in industry and business. A vibrant economy is a connected economy, and the more British companies seize new and existing opportunities for globalising their talent, their ideas, their workforce, their investments and their markets, the better they will perform. So too will their brand images. Nothing appeals more to consumers than a brand that is rooted in an admired culture but draws extra strength from a cosmopolitan mindset.

If Brexit impels us to become better and engage more widely, to trade more vigorously and further afield, to share and collaborate culturally, economically, socially and politically with 195 countries instead of 27, then it could be a step forwards not just for Britain but for the whole world. Ejecting ourselves from our comfort zone in the EU might, after all, do us some good. Disruption, we are told, is a creative force.

Simon Anholt is an independent policy adviser and founder of The Good Country

Qing Wang, professor of marketing and innovation at Warwick Business School Qing Wang, professor of marketing and innovation at Warwick Business School

The most immediate impact of the 24 June referendum on Britain’s luxury brands has come from currency depreciation, which has, ironically, made our island a more attractive tourist and shopping destination for luxury goods. In May 2016 the retail price of luxury goods in the UK was 14% lower than the global average. After the EU referendum, it dropped to 20%, making the UK the cheapest market for luxury goods in the world.

This short-term boost is likely to be of little reassurance to these brands, especially given that currency depreciation also raises their production costs, with many of these business sourcing materials from or manufacturing goods in the EU. Added to this are future uncertainties linked to the flow of creative and design talent, which is crucial to securing Britain’s fashion and luxury houses’ reputation as some of the most innovative and forward-thinking in the world.

The greatest unknown, however, is how consumers will respond to the implicit damage done to British luxury businesses’ brand authenticity when the physiological connection to the original home of luxury across the channel is dismantled.

The concept of luxury has been closely tied to Europe since classical antiquity, from ancient Greece to imperial Rome, where it was personified as refinement, elegance and sophistication, before later being transformed into a commercial industry that spread across the continent during the Renaissance.

Given the European origin of what we now consider as the luxury brand, exiting the EU will inevitably affect the British luxury sector as that symbolic link with the mainland and its almost subconscious association with craftsmanship and material excellence is lost. It is impossible to predict, but it is clear that European heritage is highly congruent with consumers’ mental image of what luxury brands ought to be.

This could prove particularly problematic given the increasing sophistication of luxury consumers and their concomitant desire to experience brands and feel connected to a label’s heritage. Country of origin has always been more central to the way in which consumers experience luxury brands than for other industries, with their authenticity linked to a range of key attributes, such as pedigree through heritage, explicit relationship to place, method of production, quality and stylistic consistency.

To assess the potential impact of Brexit on British luxury brands, we will need to understand the mental processes by which consumers reconstruct and reconfigure British luxury brands as being British rather than European. Brand meaning may have to be renegotiated and brand value dramatically altered as an outcome of this mental repositioning. The core question is whether a brand should strive to maintain its current symbolic link with Europe or gamble on specifically re-emphasising its Britishness.

This could be phrased as an opportunity, and for canny brands this moment of rediscovery of an underexploited national identity might give it a new competitive edge. Success stories such as Burberry, Jaguar Land Rover, Net-A-Porter and Mulberry have provided a partial model with their willingness to embrace new design concepts, digital technology and social media campaigns. The UK wields a significant amount of soft power linked to its ability to combine its rich tradition with cutting-edge innovation. If a native brand reduces its reliance on the established, but arguably less progressive, gold standard of European luxury, it might not be such a bad thing.

Qing Wang is professor of marketing and innovation at Warwick Business School

Tracey Follows Tracey Follows

Nowhere is there more need for futures application than in the European Union (EU) referendum, which will change the future of the UK. Yet nowhere are foresight and the practical models for thinking deeply about the future more lacking.

Modern life has become short-termist – from business to the environment and town planning, from political policymaking to crafting our own personal lives. So it is no surprise that we are approaching the big question of whether to remain in the EU in an equally short-term way.

We do not seem to know how to think long term any more. As a result, the debate has circled around the immediate short-term effects on house prices, mortgages, even cheap flights. It’s troubling, it really is. This was supposed to be a debate that centred on the long-range decisions that will affect not just this generation but the generations to come.

It hasn’t. Why? Because, as a culture, for the reasons above and more, we simply do not understand the future. The future isn’t one thing. The future is plural. Just like history, the future isn’t fact but rather a bunch of interpretations, a collection of stories.

The past and the future exist only in our minds, and, specifically, in our imaginations. The only thing that actually exists is what is happening now. Once we accept this, we can stop thinking about the past and the future, and stop looking for the one actual future.

This also means that the future is uncertain. Some enlightened boardroom members understand this, but others still don’t. That is because the language of uncertainty and ambiguity is seen as weak. Ironically, the people who consider the alternatives all the time, who aren’t certain and ideological but adaptive and agile in their views and their ideas, are the ones that will be celebrated in the future.

Why? Because as US writer and futurist Alvin Toffler says: ‘The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.’

And that is what futures work is all about – less about future happenings and more about the mindsets of decision-makers. In futures work, we do not predict the future, but probe it.

Each and every plausible kind of alternative future is investigated. This means going beyond the probable futures that the mainstream majority considers most likely and into our own imaginations to consider a range of other possible futures.

It is then our job to investigate and interrogate the implications, required resources, changes in behaviour and new assumptions that follow. It is most commonly known as scenario planning and it helps people to map out futures so that they can work out where to place their bets.

Pierre Wack, who pioneered scenario planning in the 1970s while at Shell, says: ‘To operate in an uncertain world, people need to be able to re-perceive – to question their assumptions about the way the world works, so that they can see the world more clearly. The purpose of scenarios is to help yourself change your view of reality.’

So there you have it. The role of the professional futurist is not to predict the future but to liberate people’s insights. And the end result is not to create an accurate picture of tomorrow but to make better decisions about the future today.

The EU campaigning on both sides is a long way from that. There are no facts about the future, despite the government spending £9m ($13.2m, €11.7m) on a leaflet that claims otherwise. These are, at best, unscrutinised imaginings. Economic evidence has been derived from spurious economic models with a host of biases built in.

The truth is that all models are wrong, but some are useful. What would have been more useful is a variety of scenarios that help us to question our assumptions in an uncertain world. Because there are no facts about the future, both sides have just communicated threats. As a result, the claims about the future have become more and more hyperbolic.

Every kind of threat has been used to strike fear into the electorate. This is based on the idea that there is only one future outcome and that we have no influence over it. But, of course, we do. And, finally, what a wasted opportunity this has been.

We could have had an analysis rather than a debate – an analysis of the mainstream probable future that set out interesting and varied possible futures, and even designated one of those as our preferable future.

Brands are increasingly adopting this enlightened, futures-driven approach to decision-making. It is a shame that Brand Britain has missed its opportunity to do the same.

Tracey Follows is chief strategy and innovation officer at The Future Laboratory. This article was originally published on June 13 2016 as part of Tracey's monthly Future of... column for Campaign. Read more here.

Jonathan Openshaw, editor LS:N Global Jonathan Openshaw, editor LS:N Global

At The Future Laboratory, we believe that the future is a project to participate in. Far from being a black box that we have to accept without question, it is something to take a point of view on. You can have good future scenarios and bad ones, but through careful research and planning you can help to bring about the future that you want to see, and make potential negative futures that little bit less likely.

In order to track consumer trends as they develop, we use a methodology called the Diffusion of Innovation Curve, which describes how consumer trends tend to flow from Innovators (around 2.5% of a given population) through to Early Adopters (13.5%) onto the Early Majority (34%) and Late Majority (34%), and end with the Laggards (16%). This sociological theory dates back to the 1940s, and although it can only be used as a rough guide, when backed up with rigorous qualitative and quantitative analysis it is generally quite revealing.

The problem comes when groups within a population become radically disconnected from one another. What if your Late Majority no longer feel any affinity with Early Adopters or the Laggards are fighting with the Innovators? This is when you’ll start to see friction between consumer trends at different points on the curve, and might begin to explain the current sense of disconnection that has caused such upheaval in the British political, economic and cultural systems. The voting patterns reflected this, highlighting dramatic divides within the UK, such as young versus old, urban versus rural, London versus the wider UK, affluent versus working class.

Two trends that we’re currently tracking help to illustrate this point. New Bricolage Living examines the third wave of globalisation built around urbane individuals. It’s a mindset that is based on ubiquitous access to digital media and mobile connection, resulting in a bricolage identity that draws on multiple cultural contexts simultaneously. It explores identity as a psychographic rather than a demographic; as something that constantly shifts depending on the changing context of the individual. It leads to a kind of globalised neutrality in gender, nationality and race.

Compare this to confrontational consumer mindset we examined in Backlash Brands. Here, we find a breakdown in trust between consumers and the institutions that represent and serve them – politically, commercially or culturally. A crisis of confidence has developed as trust has eroded, with consumers expecting the worst and all too frequently being proved right. Whether that is the British MPs expenses scandal or the Volkswagen emissions debacle, many of those in positions of power have proven themselves unworthy, and contaminated the system in the process.

New Bricolage Living is an Innovator and Early Adopter mentality. It’s a borderless mindset that demands freedom of movement, both online and offline. But in a society coiled for Backlash and looking for offence, New Bricolage Living can appear elitist and disconnected from mainstream concerns. The third wave of globalisation serves an urban elite, but has failed to create a social structure that can bring the rest of the population along for the ride. Without concrete mechanisms through which all strata of a society can benefit from a particular fiscal and cultural outlook, the social contract breaks down and the majority no longer aspires to adopt the cultural traits of the elite. Instead, they look to radically disrupt a system that has failed them, hoping that what comes next will be better.

The result that we woke up to on 24 June 2016 might have come as a shock to those of us who buy into New Bricolage Living, but it would be a mistake to dismiss it as a protest vote from those who don’t know any better (as many of the UK’s liberal elite have framed it). Instead, it can be seen in terms of Backlash Culture as a very deliberate dismantling of a system that the majority has lost faith in – often for good reasons. If we are going to repair the damage done by Brexit, we need to unite a divided nation and understand the root cause of the disconnect.

Jonathan Openshaw is the editor of LS:N Global

Jon Sharpe, CEO of RKCR/Y&R Jon Sharpe, CEO of RKCR/Y&R

As a nation Britain has never in my lifetime felt more fiercely politicised or more deeply divided. Despite Facebook’s algorithms’ best efforts to prompt more personal sharing, my feed is awash with political posts. Gone are the kittens dancing Gangnam-style, the mourning of dead celebrities and endless Instagram-filtered long-lashed babies. In their place are petitions urging debates in parliament, crowdfunded campaigns for the prosecution of politicians, and meticulously researched Medium articles seeking to piece together how the current crisis of democracy has come to pass. How on earth can brands who rightly wish to build their cultural currency join this new national conversation without alienating huge swathes of people as they enter the fray?

Never discuss religion or politics at the table, or so the old adage goes. Tell that to Tim Martin, who recently distributed ‘Brexit beer mats’ across the tables of his pub chain J D Wetherspoon. Martin is staunchly Eurosceptic, so it’s no surprise that the beer mats urged drinkers to ‘Vote Leave and take back control’. However, what was most striking was the mats’ furious focus on Christine Lagarde. The copy addressed Madame Lagarde directly, demanding she answer a series of questions over her governance of IMF. It’s not known whether LaGarde has ever set foot inside a Wetherspoon, and, as one wit on Twitter put it ‘I had her down as more of an All Bar One type of girl’.

But what of the pint-drinking public? What might they have made of such a peculiarly partisan approach to the brand’s tableware? Some took to Twitter to complain, ‘What a surprise – J D Wetherspoon, a brand that uses zero hours contracts and prefers its workers to have minimal rights, is pro Brexit,’ but journalist Martin Daubney probably had it right when he tweeted: ‘How many whining lefties threatening to boycott Wetherspoon over their Brexit beer mats ever drank there anyway?'

Now that the results are in, we know that Tim Martin's support of Vote Leave, if not his vendetta against Lagarde, was likely to have been shared by majority of his customers. But should brands be engaging in this kind of political discourse at all? We’re already accustomed to, if not necessarily pleased by, newspaper owners using their publications to advance political positions. But what are the implications, when, thanks to social media, all successful brand owners have, to some extent, become media owners? Should brands also use their media estate and audience base to advance political causes?

If a company is independently owned then it’s entirely at the owner’s discretion whether they choose to use the brand as a mouthpiece for their own personal political views. If a company is publicly listed and has shareholders to answer to, then such an approach is likely to be met with opprobrium by the board. Instead, business leaders may choose to fund their own ‘private political broadcasts’, just as Sir Richard Branson and Allan Sugar did in the run up to the referendum, owning their political views as individuals rather than allying them directly with any of the brands they have founded.

The truth is that while direct politics may best be avoided, there are subtler ways to send out a signal to your customers. If yours is a brand that values tolerance, discovery and internationalism, let that show in your actions as well as your words. Casting is one obvious area where brand owners can challenge narrow minded views of nationalism, but event and social engagement-based marketing can be another powerful source through which to challenge prejudice and mistrust. Coca-Cola most memorablydemonstrated this when it used its vending machines as a tool to broker a moment of human connection between people who found themselves on opposing sides of conflicts, such as that which has afflicted India and Pakistan.

As Rahul Gandhi once said, ‘Politics is everywhere…it is in your shirt… in your pants…. everywhere.’ It is impossible for brands to stay culturally current and not convey some political signals. It is a brand’s values that should help dictate what these signals should be. Take care to choose your values wisely.

Jon Sharpe is CEO of RKCR/Y&R

Gerard Grech, CEO of Tech City UK Gerard Grech, CEO of Tech City UK

More than a month has passed since the UK voted to leave the EU. In that time, we have gone through the emotional ups and downs in the wake of uncertainty about what is going to happen next. We have had a cabinet reshuffle, Theresa May has become Prime Minister and there have been continuous conversations across the country as we debate the actions that should come next. But one thing is certain. It is now business as usual for technology companies.

Yes, there are concerns for our digital companies. Following the referendum result, we commissioned a survey to check the pulse of our technology economy. Unsurprisingly, one week on, the response was relatively negative. Before the referendum, we found that 7 in 10 in technology would vote remain. After the vote this meant that 74% of those we surveyed thought the business environment would get worse. At Tech City UK we have been cautiously optimistic, and continue to see reassuring signs that the technology industry will continue to grow and be a leading player in the European market.

Following the vote, it was announced that ARM Holdings would be acquired by Softbank for £24.3bn ($31.3bn, €28bn), a record figure for a UK-based firm. Cambridge-based cyber-security business Darktrace has raised £50m ($65m, €58m), and in financial technology nine deals have been announced since 24 June, with more than £31m ($40m, €35.8m) secured. According to Pitchbook, in July 2016 UK technology companies had attracted £155m ($200m, €179m) in funding across 42 deals since the referendum. Although this is a slowdown compared with 2015, it is a reassuring figure following a major political event and shows that the UK continues to be in a strong position to attract investment.

The key areas of concern revealed in the survey centred on three themes: access to the European single market, access to great talent and continued investment. We are already working with key voices across the UK to ensure that these areas are addressed, making sure that we have the best possible environment for businesses to thrive.

While there will be unanswered questions for an unknown period, leading players in technology have made it clear that they are not letting Brexit get in their way. Leading venture capitalists including Atomico, Index Ventures and Balderton Capital have stated that they will continue to seek the best companies in the UK to invest in.

We are in a strong position. Our digital economy has been growing 32% faster and creating jobs 2.8 times faster than the wider economy. We have led the way in innovative digital policy with a supportive government, from introducing the Tech Nation Visa scheme for digital technology experts, to the introduction of the Seed Enterprise Investment scheme for early stage start-ups.

Since the referendum numerous competing technology hubs have made a bid to attract our companies, most prominently Dublin and Berlin. But while these cities have growing technology sectors, they still don’t compare to London as a leading technology centre.

Almost 40% of all European Tech Unicorns – digital businesses valued at £775m ($1bn, €895m) and over – are based in London and the UK, by far the highest anywhere in Europe. These include businesses that are expanding internationally, such as TransferWise, Deliveroo and Funding Circle. This is because the UK has a critical mass of digital expertise, smart capital and eco-system density. The UK has the second highest venture capital investment per capita and has consistently attracted more than 30% of European venture capitalists for the past few years. London, with more international business HQs than any other European capital, has a huge convergence of sectors, from financial services to healthcare, retail and advertising that have become deeply ingrained over many decades and are not easily replicated.

Some of the world’s greatest companies have been created in disruptive times – the last financial crisis was a key component in kick-starting the UK’s growing digital start-up sector. The technology world is filled with innovators, no strangers to overcoming whatever hurdles they come across. I am confident that together we can all rise to the Brexit challenge.

Gerard Grech is CEO of Tech City UK

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