The UK really wants a trillion-dollar tech company

The UK wants to create a trillion-dollar tech company. The way of doing it -- massive state aid -- could lead to the opposite result.


September 14, 2020

Take a look at the largest companies on the London Stock Exchange:

  • Unilever (consumer)
  • AstraZeneca (pharma)
  • BHP (mining)
  • Royal Dutch Shell (energy)
  • GlaxoSmithKline (pharma)

Notice the complete lack of UK Big Tech? You’re not the only one.

The UK really wants a Google or Amazon

Last week, amid talks that the UK would leave the EU in a “no-deal Brexit,” the country’s top policy adviser, Dominic Cummings, informed his staff that he is figuring out ways the UK “can build [$1T] tech companies.”

Without the trade constraints of an EU deal, the UK could aggressively provide state aid to its tech industry.

The track record of government-led tech in Europe is… not good  

Less than inspiring efforts by the EU include an attempt at creating its own search engine (Quaero) and a massive supercomputer research project (The Human Brain Project).

Tech journalist Azeem Azhar writes that if the UK goes down the path of massive state support for tech, other nations could respond and close their markets off to foreign competition.

The net result: “many national markets would essentially be closed, making the path to the ‘four comma club’ harder than ever.”

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