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Oscar Williams

News editor

UK and French governments team up to deliver digital economy conference

The government is seeking to strengthen UK technologists’ links with their French counterparts by launching a new conference to promote the digital economy.

The event, expected to take place later this year, has been conceived to bring together experts in cyber security, digital skills, AI, data and digital government.

The UK’s new digital and culture secretary, Matt Hancock, announced the news this morning after meeting with his French equivalent, Françoise Nyssen, at the UK France Summit at Sandhurst yesterday.

“The UK and France are strengthening ties in technology and innovation,” he said. “Both countries benefit when our digital economies are strong and the event will deepen our bonds and foster cross-Channel collaboration between those at the forefront of modern technology.”

London retained its title as tech funding capital of Europe last year, despite fears that that the UK’s departure from the EU would put off investors. But a forecast commissioned by the Mayor of London revealed earlier this month that Brexit would hit job growth in the tech sector harder than in any other sector of the economy.

A total of 32,000 digital technology jobs will be lost by 2030 if the UK leaves the EU on World Trade Organisation terms without a transition period, researchers estimate. Softer Brexit scenarios are also predicted to strike the digital technologies sector hardest.

Julian David, CEO of techUK, described the digital economy conference as a “significant step towards greater collaboration between the British and French tech sectors”: “International platforms for collaboration, such as the one announced by Matt Hancock today, provide valuable cross-border perspectives on many of the social, legal and ethical questions that will be raised as we continue to innovate.”

Stephen Kelly, CEO Sage, also welcomed the news: “For today’s digital entrepreneurs the world has no borders, only opportunities to grow their business. We have much to learn from each other as we bring advanced technologies like AI and collective intelligence into the everyday lives of small and growing businesses to improve productivity and growth.”