IT industry launches new Technology Manifesto

A new Technology Manifesto has been launched which calls for the government to create tax incentives to encourage the IT sector in the UK to grow and make 250,000 new IT jobs available over the next 10 years.

The 20-page manifesto, which is being led by sector trade body Intellect, has been drafted by a group of industry experts and is backed by companies from the sector, including software firms Iris and Kewill. Ernst & Young analysts carried out the economic impact assessment for the project.

Software provider Microfocus launched the original version of the manifesto, ‘Making BrITain Great Again’, in July 2009, which was then taken over by Intellect.

The new Technology Manifesto, which will officially launch later this week, outlines a number of proposals to boost the availability of technology skills in the UK.

For example, it calls for help for Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) graduates with personal debt, and wants Government and private sector companies to consider the policies of companies towards graduate recruitment when awarding contracts.

The manifesto also wants large technology companies to share their expertise with emerging entrepreneurs in the sector. It suggests the establishment of an advice hub based on web 2.0 technologies and Government-sponsored programmes to enable UK companies to learn how global companies run their businesses.

Reduced taxes will also help to to encourage investment in UK IT companies, increase R&D and entice global IT companies to open offices in the UK, according to the manifesto.

This includes more generous Corporate Venturing relief to encourage large companies to invest in smaller firms in the IT sector and an extension for the SME R&D tax rate to all technology firms. Also, the manifesto calls for a simplification of the Enterprise Investment Scheme to allow serial entrepreneurs to be able to apply for EIS tax relief when they play an active role in the companies they invest in.

Furthermore, the manifesto calls on the government to deliver the required digital infrastructure.

Accelerating the rollout of high-speed broadband, establishing an intelligent transport system and implementing ‘smart grids’ to improve the efficiency of electricity delivery alone could create 700,000 jobs, according to Richard Holway, veteran industrywatcher and founder of TechMarketView., who was involved in the drafting of the manifesto. Not all of these jobs would necessarily be in IT, however.

Holway said that the manifesto will be brought to the attention of all the major political parties.

"John Higgins [director general of Intellect] is going to individually and face-to-face lobby each of the parties with the manifesto," he said.

Last week, the Conservative Party launched a Technology Manifesto in which it promised to open up the market for government IT contracts to more suppliers.

Sector skills council e-skills UK also launched the 'e-skills Manifesto' earlier this month, calling for more investment in technology skills.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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