Will Brexit Make It Difficult For Digital Health Startups?

The British Prime Minister Theresa May, at the Conservative Party Conference, announced that the Government would enact Article 50 by the end of March 2017.

The certainty as to when a Brexit would happen, and that there is an expectation of a “hard” exit from the European Union, has put the markets into a bit of a spin. As I write, we’re in the aftermath of a sudden drop in Sterling, aided by a “fat finger” error.

For all the media coverage during the global financial crisis of traders making wild, champagne-fuelled bets, the markets actually don’t like uncertainty.

Brexit is the kind of unknown the finance industry doesn’t like. No country has ever decided to leave the bloc. The UK hasn’t had to negotiate a trade deal for so long there is a massive skills shortage in negotiators. We don’t know how we will be doing business once we officially leave.

That has traders staring at their Bloomberg Terminals, biting their nails to the quick.

So, to the question of will it be difficult for the UK outside of Europe?

The correct answer right now – if you’re trying to plan – is nobody knows. No one. Anything to the contrary is just opinion. We literally have no idea whether this is a good or a bad thing for the United Kingdom. Why believe me? I heard it from a contact of mine who works in the realm of political risk.

There is only one certainty: we will exit the European Union with full sovereignty over every decision and mistake we make.

Our best course of action is to pull on our strengths. Position ourselves to be highly desirable to an international, as well as domestic, audience of buyers.

The UK digital health market is one of the most mature and advanced in the world. We’ve learned from a myriad of mistakes and challenges. We know what it takes to provide a quality and impactful service to healthcare providers and patients.

That kind of experience is hard to come by, and much of the world is having to play catch up to the kind of innovation that is possible in the health tech space – innovation that we already have.

But, it’s important to be smart. Be an optimist and act as though the Government will protect the interests of U.K. based startups, but plan to ensure your business is in the best position to take advantage of international opportunities – even if it means jumping onto a life raft leaving the independent United Kingdom.

Now, where did I put that paddle?


James Barton

James is a freelance writer and specialist in Digital Health. He brings his perspective as a leader within a reknowned supplier to developments within the healthcare technology industry.

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