Estonia has begun specifically targeting UK digital startup founders in the hope that they might digitally shift their business to the Baltic state in order maintain access to the European Union’s single market after Brexit.
The British government’s continued rhetoric about a so-called “hard Brexit”, where the UK sacrifices access to the EU’s single market in order to halt immigration, has caused consternation amongst UK businesses large and small. As these fears grow, the UK risks the flight of large corporations and financial institutions but also the digital and technology startups that will be the engines of the economy in the coming decades.
Since she took office, Theresa May has made a point of targeting London’s “metropolitan elite” as the enemy, but in doing so she is pushing them and the businesses they run into the open arms of other European countries only too happy to accept them and the taxes they pay.
Much has been made of how Paris and Frankfurt are competing to become Europe’s financial capital as politics pushes the City of London aside, but Berlin and Tallin are also looking to poach the UK’s startups.
Berlin has made various overtures to UK tech startups, but now Estonia has started to heavily promote its business e-residency programme to London-based founders – offering them a chance to physically stay in London, but shift their business to Tallin.
Estonia launched its e-residency programme in 2014, but has started to specifically target UK digital founders in recent weeks with its “How to stay in the EU” campaign as the signs from Number 10 look increasingly depressing for business.
If Number 10 does not start mending the bridges with business soon, it will not just be the banks that will flee the UK, but also the UK’s businesses of the future – which will leave the government purse in dire straights for decades to come.
Image courtesy of e-Estonia