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Tech investors name Bermuda’s ’superpowers’

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Sharing view: Brian Sewell, founder of Rockwell Capital, was among the panellists at the Virtual Bermuda Tech Summit 2020 who identified Bermuda's "superpowers" (File photograph)
A panel at the Virtual Bermuda Tech Summit shared thoughts on Bermuda’s “superpowers”. Clockwise from top left are Thomas Lee; Kim Perdikou, moderator; Massimo Scalabrini; and Brian Sewell

Three business leaders have given an assessment of what Bermuda is doing right in the technology start-up space, and a few things it could do better.

They were on a panel at the Virtual Bermuda Tech Summit 2020, discussing the rise of private wealth investment in technology, during which they were asked for their views on what they thought are Bermuda’s superpowers.

Massimo Scalabrini, partner, Calyx Private Office, identified strengths and a few weaknesses. He said: "The most obvious one [superpower] is the beauty of the place. I visit a few times a year, and it is an absolute gem. There is a very professional community, both from the legal profession and the accountancy – all the big names are there. The insurance and reinsurance business helps the island be noticed across the financial world.

“It has a lot to offer, but there are things it could do better.”

Elaborating, he mentioned the 60:40 business ownership rule, and said: “If the government wants to promote inbound investment they should relax some of the ownership rules that are still very protectionist.

“In today's world we are all globalised, we all have options. It would be nice to come to an island with business without having to worry about these little things. The world is too big. We need to move fast.”

Mr Scalabrini also identified the island’s banking environment as having very little competition and being “not very efficient”.

There is still very little competition in the banking world, and it is not very efficient.

Brian Sewell, founder of Rockwell Capital, said: "We are very interested and motivated to create a venture centre in Bermuda.

"What I've noticed about Bermuda is the ability to get things done. So if you are a technology company or a digital asset company, I would say the super power is the fact that you can land in Bermuda, and you can meet with everyone you need to meet with, and every division of the government, within a day or two, and have the conversations and communications that you need. And sometimes, even influence legislation if your idea is significant enough and the need is there, and make things happen and get things done.“

He added: “In this new innovative technology space of blockchain, where the regulatory environment is very ambiguous, that's a really powerful thing, and it bodes well for Bermuda."

Access to policymakers was also one of the island’s superpowers identified by Thomas Lees, managing partner and head of research, Funstrat Global Advisors.

He said: "Anyone who wants to do business in Bermuda can actually have a meeting with the policymakers that will make the decision.

“That's important because one of the reasons people don't start businesses in America, and they move out of the US, is because the US tends to let dominant industries continue to dominate, but in Bermuda they are open to hearing new ideas.

“They created a huge market around innovation insurance because of that. That ability to access regulators is a huge deal.”

In addition, Mr Lee said having Bermuda’s currency “essentially linked to the US dollar” was a plus for doing business on the island.

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Published October 20, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated October 19, 2020 at 8:45 pm)

Tech investors name Bermuda’s ’superpowers’

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