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October 27, 2016

As Microsoft axes staff and hikes software prices, Bill Gates calls for more investment post-Brexit

Visiting the UK, Bill Gates spoke at the Grand Challenges Conference at the Science Museum.

By Ellie Burns

Bill Gates has called on the UK to boost investments in science and innovation following the Brexit vote.

The Microsoft co-founder, who was speaking at the Grand Challenges Conference at the Science Museum, said:

“The complexity of our most urgent global problems requires that we invest in science and put our best minds to work on finding solutions.

“As the UK seeks to negotiate its exit from the EU, it is critical that the government steps up its investments in science and innovation.”

The call from the world’s richest man for more tech investment, may sit at odds with how his company has reacted to Brexit. In September Microsoft announced the closing of its London Skype office, a move which will make nearly all of its 400 London staff redundant.

Bill Gates Science Museum

Bill Gates shared the stage with Priti Patel, the UK government minister in charge of international development. Patel was a leading campaigner for Brexit.

The 400 jobs lost in the closure of the London Skype office will take a big chunk out of the 2,850 jobs Microsoft intends to terminate in the fourth quarter of 2016.

Microsoft is also planning to hike enterprise software and cloud prices in the UK, with the tech giant saying that the still ‘competitive’ prices were in response to the plunging pound post-Brexit. From January 2017, British enterprise customers will have to shell out up to 22% more as the company looks to realign prices with Euro levels. Customers can expect a 13% increase for enterprise software products and 22% for cloud services.

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Gates comments regarding Brexit were not restricted to science investment. Many attending the Grand Challenges Conference thought Gates made a subtle dig towards Brexit.

While talking about funding for antibiotic resistance research, awarded by the British public, Gates said: “The British public voted, in this case, I think wisely, for what they thought was the most urgent which is the problem of antimicrobial resistance.”

Trump was also not immune from subtle jabs thrown by Gates, with the Microsoft co-founder saying that ‘you can’t build a wall’ to keep out deadly diseases’, in what may be in reference to the Republican nominee’s promise to build a wall between Mexico and the US.

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