UK government to protect tech firms from foreign takeovers

Boris Johnson

The government is reportedly preparing a new bill to protect UK tech startups from foreign investors, a move thought to be aimed VCs from China.

The bill is thought to have divided the government, according to The Telegraph, with some concerned it could hamper startups sourcing the funding they need to survive.

The bill has been in the works for some time and Boris Johnson recently made a small announcement about it during last week's Prime prime minister's questions. He said that in the coming weeks he would bring forward measures to ensure the UK "protects our technological base".

He added that MPs were "right to be concerned about investment" and also fearful "about the buying up of UK technology now by countries that may have ulterior motives", reportedly referencing China.

The bill is believed to be part of an effort to limited the UK's reliance on Chinese businesses. Last week, Johnson announced that he would reverse his decision to allow Huawei limited access to the country's 5G networks. The original decision went against advice from the US government and also saw a sizable rift within the conservative party. Johnson is now thought to be looking at removing the company from UK networks by 2023.

The former CEO of ARM, Sir Robin Saxby told The Telegraph that the proposed legislation could damage the competitiveness of the UK's tech sector: "It's really hard for politicians to understand how business really works. I'd say to them: don't get confused with stock markets and takeovers."

Johnson's chief advisor, Dominic Cummings, doesn't share the same views and is thought to have been against the sale of UK-based AI firm DeepMind, which was acquired by Google in 2014. He reportedly said it amounted to selling off "valuable asset" for "trivial money, without the powers-that-be in Whitehall understanding its significance."

Bobby Hellard

Bobby Hellard is ITPro's Reviews Editor and has worked on CloudPro and ChannelPro since 2018. In his time at ITPro, Bobby has covered stories for all the major technology companies, such as Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook, and regularly attends industry-leading events such as AWS Re:Invent and Google Cloud Next.

Bobby mainly covers hardware reviews, but you will also recognize him as the face of many of our video reviews of laptops and smartphones.