Despite ongoing uncertainties, those in the geospatial sector seem remarkably sanguine at the prospect of Brexit … at least on the surface.
True, concerns have been voiced about Britain’s future role in EU initiatives such as Galileo, Copernicus, INSPIRE and Horizon 2020; the effect on British nationals participating in the Erasmus student exchange programme, and the implication for EU nationals working in Britain’s software sector.
For some, particularly in the public sector, the forthcoming Great Repeal Bill, with its intention to absorb parts of EU legislation into UK law, will be sufficient to assuage doubts. Others in the private sector will perhaps take comfort from a recent CBI survey of over 800 businesses* that suggests 70% of those responding plan to increase or maintain their innovation spending following the vote to leave the EU. Only 7% plan to reduce their investment.
“As we prepare to depart the EU, this shows that firms are rolling up their sleeves and looking to make the best of Brexit,” says Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI Director-General.
So what sort of innovation is needed? “It’s not just about freewheeling low-red tape buccaneering,” said Rohan Silva speaking to a BCS event in Manchester towards the end of last year that addressed the topic ‘Shining the light on post-Brexit Britain’.
The co-founder at Second Home, ex-Chair of Downing Street’s Tech City Advisory Group, and Senior Policy Advisor to David Cameron (2010-13) cited examples from the US, Israel, Singapore and other innovation hubs where government was driving innovation. “We need an industrial strategy of that sort in the UK,” said Silva. “We’ve already had Tech City - so we can do this, with targeted ambition. There has never been a time when the IT voice has been more important.”