COVID-19 EXPERT LEGAL INSIGHTS

Global Talent: In the darkness of COVID-19 chaos, the UK needs tech talent to light the way

25 March 2020

This is not just another piece about the omnipresent spectre of Coronavirus. Since the Coronavirus outbreak began in December last year, we have seen the world focus on little else other than the potentially catastrophic impact of the virus on our physical, mental and economic health. We have seen the virus bring out the worst in us, from the selfish locust-like stripping of supermarket shelves, to an unconscionably racist rhetoric surrounding the origin of the virus in Wuhan. It’s time to focus on the positive and to shine a light on the innovative thinking driving the technology that will surely help us battle and beat Coronavirus. It’s time to think about how we, as immigration specialists and legal partners of Tech Nation, can help bring that essential tech talent to the UK.


This is a pandemic in which technology will play a key role in bringing a resolution. We have already realised that this will be the most high-tech response to a pandemic in human history. In the coming onslaught, technological support in keeping essential services running, keeping businesses afloat and keeping people alive will be undeniable and immeasurable. This global pandemic is showing us, on an unprecedented level, just how interconnected the world is now. 

The role of technology amidst the pandemic

The impact of technology is manifesting in a wide range of ways. Those of us who have been unable to find groceries have managed to keep ourselves fed at the touch of an app, we have seen community-led social networking groups helping to provide relief and assistance to the vulnerable, and home working technologies have enabled me to bring this blog to you from the (relative) safety of my front room.

Perhaps most crucially, and as the healthcare system prepares to shoulder this overwhelming burden, we will see the positive contribution which health-tech can make in easing the pressure on the public sector.

As we have been sinking into chaos, we have seen UK-based tech companies coming up with radical solutions. In health-tech in particular we have some home-grown British businesses rising to the challenge. Doctify, Pushdoctor and Babylon Health have shown they can alleviate the pressure on the NHS through offering free video consultations. CausaLens could potentially help with optimising limited resource allocation by predicting how diseases may spread in real time. BenevolentAI is already working on identifying existing drugs that could relieve some of the symptoms and complications of the virus.  Finally, Amplyfi has already offered up a public Coronavirus global search engine covering all modern languages, taking their potential contribution beyond the confines of the UK.

The possibilities for advancement in the health-tech sector are, of course, not limited to the Coronavirus response, which has been recognised by Tech Nation with exciting health-tech companies such as Healx, BenevolentAI and Babylon being named in Tech Nation’s Future Fifty 8.0 cohort. The potential future impact of health-tech in supporting the beleaguered NHS is myriad and wide-ranging. It has already been seen how access to online consultations can transform general practice, and this can be extended further through electronic prescribing capabilities. It is likely that the necessity of moving standard GP appointments to telephone and online consultations will have lasting impacts on the way these services are offered.

Tech can also revolutionise surgery through developments in 3D printing, and the ability of virtual reality to ease the rehabilitation process for amputees is also currently being explored. Beyond that, the potential for advancements in cyber security to allow us to develop more streamlined and accessible patient record databases could bring untold benefits to both research and care management. The possibilities are endless.

All of this demonstrates the key role that tech plays and will continue to play in the UK and beyond. The tech sector will be at the heart of the Coronavirus response but also, arguably, to our future success as a nation. The ability of these tech companies to pivot and adapt to completely unprecedented situations like these is due largely to the innovative and ingenious thinking of the teams behind them. The UK digital tech sector offers a forum for the best and brightest to come to the forefront, to innovate and see solutions where others see only problems. As shown in Tech Nation’s 2020 report, there is ample evidence that the UK is getting this right. The Tech Nation report indicates that in 2019 the digital tech sector grew six times faster than the rest of the UK economy and that more than £10 billion of inward investment helped UK tech businesses to grow. This accounted for a whopping one-third of all EU tech investment!

Tech Nation endorsement and the Global Talent visa

The UK digital tech sector is growing exponentially and is cementing its place as a world leader. Access to talent is widely recognised as being a key factor to the ongoing success of sector development. Endorsement by Tech Nation under the Global Talent route is an excellent way for key talent to either stay in or come to the UK. If you are an innovative thinker and have big plans for the UK digital tech sector, then this could be the perfect route for you.

As one of the legal partners of Tech Nation, we have had the privilege of attending some of their exciting events and have witnessed first-hand the fantastic community they have brought together, complete with a super engaged alumni network.  If you want to be a part of that community and have questions about the Tech Nation endorsement or the Global Talent visa in general then please get in touch. The UK needs you, now more than ever!

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