The UK is targeting US tech companies with the launch of HQ-UK, a programme aimed at encouraging expanding firms to build their international headquarters and operations bases in the UK.
Driven by the UK Trade and Investment agency (UKTI), the programme seeks to capitalise on the UK’s competitiveness in the tech world. Baroness Shields, digital advisor to the prime minister, described HQ-UK as a mission to “demonstrate exactly why tech companies should choose the UK as their international headquarters”, calling the country “the digital capital of Europe”.
Worth an estimated $184.5bn annually and seeing fast growth in employment, the UK’s internet economy presents an attractive environment for tech companies to build their overseas headquarters.
According to UKTI, the UK offers competitive incentives as an investment destination, boasting the fastest-growing economy in the G7 in 2014, world-class universities and a highly skilled workforce – the second largest in Europe.
HQ-UK is promoting the UK as a top location for US tech companies to expand by introducing a number of procedures and reforms to increase its attractiveness to business. Services offered to facilitate the setup of foreign companies include expedited visa procedures, priority border control and easier access to UK bank accounts.
As of April 2015, the UK will also have a “fully reformed tax system” offering the “lowest corporate tax rate in the G7”, according to UKTI. HQ-UK also advertises an attractive 10% tax rate for income from UK and EU patents, and an improved tax credit regime for research and development.
A joint initiative between UKTI, Tech City UK, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, HQ-UK promotes sites across the UK – London, Newcastle, Brighton and Cambridge – as prime spots for tech companies to build their international bases and benefit from the country’s growing internet economy.
In the past year, UKTI, the government department tasked with helping UK businesses succeed and enticing foreign investment, aided 48,000 businesses and attracted 1773 FDI projects, which supported more than 111,000 domestic jobs.