How Brexit Could Affect the Global EdTech Industry
With Brexit breaking the Internet today (Sorry, Kim K.), the tech world is abuzz with the implications of the U.K. leaving the European Union (EU). Now that 52% of U.K. citizens have spoken and voted for independence, the tech hub of London is working to navigate the changing landscape of global technology.
The referendum vote comes less than 10 days after EdTechxEurope, a major EdTech conference held in London this year. More than 800 global edtech investors and innovators convened in what was once considered the European tech capital. 2016 could be the first and last time that an Britain is the go-to tech event host, predicts Ben Thompson, founder of Stratechery, a tech research newsletter.
Thompson predicts that American internet companies that have their European headquarters based in the U.K. will likely be forced to move to a different country, changing the technology ecosystem of Europe. Berlin is the front-runner, according to German Startups Association.
Microsoft is one of the major companies in edtech that has spoken out against the referendum. “Our view is that the U.K. should remain in the EU,” Microsoft’s U.K. chief executive Michel Van der Bel said on the firm’s website. “The U.K. remaining in the EU supports important criteria for continued and future investment by Microsoft and others.” Microsoft currently employs 5,000 staff in Britain. The future of those positions now unclear.
EdtechUK has expedited four edtech-related trade missions between Britain and major U.S. cities, including San Francisco, according to their website. The U.K.’s departure from the EU comes at a time when EdtechUK is expanding globally, leaving tech firms and investors unsure of how factors like Internet regulations and the economy will change in the U.K. and EU.
As it stands now, the British Sterling Pound is at a 30-year low against the U.S. Dollar with no signs of the plummet stopping. Startup leaders are worried that Brexit will affect hiring and trade due to new immigration laws and changes in the market, respectively.
Gretchen Kuhsel is a junior journalism student at Emerson College, where she is the assistant lifestyle editor at The Berkeley Beacon. Her work has also been published in various campus magazines and The Connecticut Post. When she’s not writing, she’s spending far too much time online shopping or balancing upside down on her yoga mat.