Wales

Wales' access to EU digital single market 'crucial'

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It is crucial Wales has access to the EU digital single market, a former Welsh Government technology boss has said

The Welsh digital economy is worth £8bn and employs 40,000 people.

David Warrender, former director of Digital Wales, said it was vital firms could "trade in the same way" as other European nations.

But other Welsh technology executives believe the market outside Europe is more important.

Mr Warrender is now the CEO of Innovation Point, which matches digital businesses with investors.

"Like the rest of the Brexit negotiations, we need to make sure that we are able to access that digital single market," he said.

"I think it's pretty crucial, we need to be part of it.

"If we're not we've got to get on with exporting elsewhere. In many ways for digital businesses, proximity is actually slightly less important than it is for some."

'Strong impact'

Last year, a report said Wales had the fastest-growing digital economy outside London.

In May 2015, the EU Commission announced a strategy for the EU digital single market, which will introduce laws on issues, such as cross border e-commerce and copyright.

Economy Secretary Ken Skates said Wales was not far behind some of the world's most-developed digital nations, but agreed with Mr Warrender it was very important Welsh businesses had access to the EU's digital single market.

However, Denise Powell, Open Innovation Manager at IQE which makes semi-conductors in Cardiff, said Brexit will not affect business, as many of its products are sold beyond the European Union.

IQE is working with the Welsh Government to attract global businesses to create Europe's first compound semi-conductor cluster and Mrs Powell believes it could lead to thousands of jobs.

"I suspect that Brexit will not have a strong impact on the cluster, because compound semi-conductor technologies are global," she said.

"Some early figures suggest that we could certainly start to build a cluster that could attract in the region of 5,000 jobs," she added.

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