Vodafone’s CEO, Vittorio Colao, says that streamlining the visa application processes post Brexit will be critical to ensuring that Britain remains a key player in telecoms research and development

The UK government must deliver a strong Brexit package or risk alienating its telecommunications sector, according to Vodafone’s departing CEO Vitorrio Colao. 

During a media briefing in London this week, Colao said that the UK government must consider the role of immigration in fuelling innovation in its telecoms sector, or risk falling behind in R&D.  

"The UK has tremendous opportunity but it also needs to make sure it gets a lot of things right. On the one hand, this country has tremendous intellectual and academic power, and it was on the right track by creating technology hubs here in the UK, not only in London but also in that corridor between London, Oxford and Newbury. The potential this country has makes it a tremendous place to be – it is an amazing place from which you can distribute innovation throughout the world. 

"The potential is there but we need to get Brexit right. If you get it wrong, if you get the immigration and the visa part wrong, this country may miss an opportunity. It will not be all bad – but it will miss an opportunity," he said. 

Earlier in the session, Vodafone’s CEO elect, Nick Read, categorically denied that the company was considering moving its headquarters to Germany, following its acquisition of German cable company, Unitymedia

Colao echoed this sentiment, but warned that the deployment of future R&D centres could be affected by the outcome of the Brexit negotiations. 

"Of course, there is no plan to move our headquarters to Germany because everybody speaks English here. But of course, in the coming years, we will have to put more innovation centres in Germany, because that is where we have our main assets. Does the UK have the opportunity to compete with that? I think it does, but we need to get this Brexit thing right – otherwise Lisbon, Berlin, The Nordic countries, Amsterdam will become very appealing places too," he concluded.