Spain seeking to lure British women to work there post-Brexit as battle for UK talent heats up

IN GRAN CANARIA – Spain is fighting a battle against other countries to attract British digital nomads with visas and tax perks post Brexit but Madrid’s priority is convincing them to stay so they boost the economy, the country’s digitalisation minister said.

Apart from the obvious attractions of a growing business ecosystem, good weather and a relaxed way of life, Carme Artigas said Spain also hoped to attract female entrepreneurs because the country is widely viewed as a safe place to live for women.

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A digital nomad’s visa and tax concessions for start-up companies in Spain will come into force next month as part of a new Start-Up Law but Madrid hopes that the best talent will thrive in growing “talent poles” in the country, said Ms Artigas.

It comes as an international race is underway to attract the brightest British business minds to move abroad, with countries creating commercial “ecosystems” and offering fiscal inducements and visas to get round Brexit barriers.

Britain ranked at 18 in a global list of the best countries to start a business, eight places below Spain, according to a report published this year for the Global Economic Forum, an international humanitarian and business organisation.

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For Ms Artigas, the key to grow the digital economy was to encourage talented entrepreneurs or digital nomads to put down roots in Spain

“We don’t want digital nomads, we want residents. The nomads are a way into a country. Our hope is that the nomad visa is very attractive but then they stay in our country. That they put down their roots in our country,” Ms Artigas, the secretary of state for digitalisation and artificial intelligence told i.

“The key to attracting talent is to have a quality of life, good infrastructure. This means from roads to connectivity. We are on an island (Gran Canaria) which has a good connection. Good universities, spaces for research. It is not just the climate but the public services. It is a good health service.”

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spain seeking to lure british women to work there post brexit as battle for uk talent heats up
Spain wants to attract people to live there including women, as part of a bid to attract young talent post-Brexit (Photo: Ben Welsh)

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Ms Artigas was speaking at an international conference on the digital economy attended by representatives from 50 countries including Britain which was hosted by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Gran Canaria in Spain last week. The OECD is a global policy forum made up of 100 nations.

In Spain, where 22 per cent of the economy is digital-based, start-up hubs have grown up in Barcelona, Malaga and Madrid.

“We want to create the best (business) ecosystem possible. We are convinced that talent attracts talent. The smart guys want to work with smart guys,” Ms Artigas said.

“There is a global battle for talent. Why? Because talent brings investment.”

Ms Artigas, who began her own start-up in 2006 before going into politics, said many countries had made tax concessions to attract foreign entrepreneurs, but governments could not afford limitless fiscal give-aways.

She said she was hopeful that female entrepreneurs would be attracted to move to Spain because it was widely regarded as a safe country for women to live.

In 2021, Spain became the first European country to record femicides, a crime which is defined as the murder of a woman by a man on account of their gender.

Last year, the country recorded 2.3 per cent femicides per 100,000 of population, lower than the European average.

“We want to attract women because they feel secure. We would like them to come and work here,” said Ms Artigas.

However, Spain’s female executives earned 15 per cent less than male executives, according to European Union data from 2017.

Ms Artigas pointed to the example of the Canary Islands as a place which nurtures start-ups. The islands, which are classified as periphery zones of the European Union, offer special tax and fiscal incentives to companies in the film, technology, renewable energy and research and development sectors.

Among the most recent feature films shot in the islands were Jason Bourne, starring Matt Damon, Allied with Marion Cotillard, Clash of the Titans and Wrath of the Titans, starring Rosamund Pike, Ralph Fiennes and Liam Neeson.

The archipelago, which has long been popular with British holidaymakers but now is becoming a beacon for nomads, was ranked as 4th best place in Europe to live by Nomad List, which offers advice to those considering the itinerant lifestyle. The best was Lisbon, followed by Madeira then Timișoara in Romania.

Meanwhile, the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor’s 2022 report found the United Arab Emirates, Holland and Finland ranked as the best countries for businesses.

Britain was ranked at 18 in the list of 100 countries, eight points below Spain, according to the report, which was produced by the World Economic Forum, an independent international organisation committed to backing humanitarian and business issues.

Among the 13 key factors which made for a good entrepreneurial “ecosystem” was the importance of the rule of law and education systems, the report found.

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