“The key to investing is not assessing how much an industry is going to affect society, or how much it will grow, but rather determining the competitive advantage of any given company and, above all, the durability of that advantage.”
—Warren Buffett, Fortune, 1999
Listen to the British media and you would be forgiven for thinking that, thanks to Covid-19, business and investment opportunities in the UK are gone forever. Headlines scream with news of an economic depression of the likes which we have never known and the end of recognisable commercial life.
Whilst the Coronavirus pandemic will undoubtedly cause job losses and a reduction in growth, we must always remember that throughout history, pandemics, along with war, have been the norm, rather than the exception. And regardless of the scale of the disaster, humanity has always come back stronger than before, as has business.
For non-EU/EEA citizens looking to come to the UK on a Start-Up Visa, Innovator Visa, or Tier 1 Investor Visa, the million-dollar question is – what industries will not only make a quick recovery once the threat of the pandemic ends but also, what sectors are set to thrive in the next five years?
In the absence of a crystal ball, it is difficult to say precisely what sectors will be in high demand during and after the Covid-19 pandemic. But below are some industries that are already showing signs of exponential growth in 2020 and beyond.
With schools and offices closed, online meeting services such as Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype, Zoho, and GoToMeeting have seen extraordinary demands for their services. For example, the ‘Zoom Boom’ saw the app downloaded 2.13 million times around the world on 23 March, the day the lockdown was announced in the UK– up from 56,000 a day two months earlier.
With old and young alike across the world forced to stay at home, streaming services such as Netflix, Prime Video, NowTV, and Britbox are experiencing a significant increase in demand. Latest research shows the industry is poised to grow by $US149.96 billion between 2020-2024.
Opportunities extend beyond the big players. For example, last month, Parklife Festival founder Sacha Lord launched a live streaming music platform from Manchester, bringing live bands, poetry, and other creative events to the public. Mr Lord told the BBC:
"In a sad state of affairs, the coronavirus pandemic has decimated the nightlife economy.
"However we are resilient and music is what Greater Manchester does best."
By mid-April, the website had over two million hits.
Immersive technology, incorporating virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR), and haptics, is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world. An enticing mix of tech and creative skills, immersive technology is one of the UK’s most dynamic industries and ripe for investment and new products. At present, there are approximately 1,000 immersive-specialist companies in the UK employing around 4,500 people and generating £660 million in sales. This equals around 9% of the global market share.
Rather than seeing sales slump during the Covid-19 pandemic, immersive technology has helped isolated people ‘visit’ global destinations whilst remaining safe at home. Experts have noted that such experiences can positively affect people’s mental heal during the Coronavirus crisis.
The eSports and online gaming industry are expected to hit a value of £1.65 billion this year. Those at the top of their game compete for massive prize pools; for example, Epic Games, the developer of Fortnite announced in May 2019 that it would be doling out $100 million in cash prizes. Also, significant eSports events play to sell-out arenas, and top athletes like Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf , while not quite household names, enjoy celebrity among the growing number of eSports enthusiasts.
Covid-19 may have hampered traditional sports, which will be playing behind closed doors for the near future, but eSports have enjoyed a substantial boost due to the virus lockdown. According to the Washington Post , Twitch, the most popular video game streaming platform, saw 1.49 billion gaming hours watched in April —up by 50%, and Steam, a PC gaming platform, hit its all-time high concurrent user count at over 20 million people in March.
Proof of confidence in the eSports sector has come from prestigious sponsorship deals; for example, BMW announced it is to sponsor four esports organisations in the United Kingdom, Germany, South Korea, and China, alongside its exiting deals in the US.
Financial technology or FinTech is set to dominate the UK economy in the next few years, with growth during this period expected to sit at around 88%. And Coronavirus has not put off investors - Modulr, a digital alternative to commercial and wholesale transaction banking, has just announced it has secured £18.9 million in growth capital.
Myles Stephenson, CEO of Modulr, commented: “In the past year, we’ve experienced strong growth, we’ve gained direct access to key payments infrastructure and have positioned ourselves as a trusted payments partner for some of the most ambitious companies in the UK and beyond.”
As can be seen from these flourishing industries, Britain is very much open for business. However, when applying for a Startup, Innovator, or Tier 1 Investor Visa, it is vital to seek advice from legal and financial specialists. This is because the investments you make, either in your own business or in share capital or loan capital in active UK companies must remain at a certain level for you to extend your stay or apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain. For example, for the Innovator Visa, you need to have a strategy in place to prove your business has growth potential in domestic and international markets and can create jobs. If the sector you plan to launch your business in is struggling in the aftermath of the Coronavirus pandemic, your application risks being refused because your company lacks viability and scalability.
An experienced immigration solicitor can assist you with applying for a Startup, Innovator, or Tier 1 Investor Visa. They can also introduce you to wealth managers and business development experts who can provide advice on the future of the sector you plan to invest your time and/or money in.
Guide on Starting A Business in The UK For Foreign Entrepreneurs
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