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World-leading IT expert? We'll fast-track you into Blighty, promises PM

Visa red carpet system could attract TENS or even HUNDREDS of bods

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Tech experts will be fast-tracked to receive visas for the UK – as long as they're a "world-leading talent" – Prime Minister David Cameron announced today.

Top tech bods are going to be added to the "exceptional talent" visa track for "people who are internationally recognised as world leaders" in their fields, which has the potential to bring a tiny handful of IT talent into the country.

The fast track has previously been reserved for folks in science and the arts who have been approved by official organisations like the Royal Society, Royal Academy of Engineers or the Arts Council. The current limit is for just a thousand endorsements, up to April next year.

Cameron also said that the government would supply a £15.5m funding package from its Technology Strategy Board to "help innovative businesses". The pot will be split into R&D funding competitions for up to £12.5m and another three competitions of £1m each for specialist clusters like Tech City in London, healthcare tech in Wales and manufacturing in the North East.

"We are determined to build a rebalanced economy across the country and get behind the entrepreneurs imagining a new tomorrow in the dozens of technology clusters, accelerators and start-up incubators across Britain,” Cameron said.

The prime minister made his remarks at Tech City today, as the digital hipster collective released its annual report on itself. The report said that the number of digital/tech firms in London had grown by 76 per cent between 2009 to 2012 to over 88,000 while the sector grew by 16.6 per cent.

He praised the cluster as a "real success" that was contributing to the government's plans to make Britain "the best place in the world in which to start and grow a business". ®

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