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May 24, 2016

Brexit fears fail to hurt UK investment as London’s tech sector closes in on Silicon Valley

News: EY Attractiveness Survey ranks London highly on investor sentiment.

By James Nunns

London is the second most likely city in the world to create the next big tech giant.

The capital moved up the rankings from fourth to second and now only sits behind San Francisco as one of the most attractive places for business.

This is according to the latest EY Attractiveness Survey which saw investors naming London as having one of the best chances of creating the next tech giant, second only to San Francisco.

The attractiveness of London has helped the UK to become a more attractive proposition for foreign direct investment, although it is the north-west which has been the main draw.

Out of the 12 UK regions, the north-west came out on top with FDI doubling in 2015 from the previous year.

Despite this increase, London remains the main draw and was the leading urban area by number of FDI projects in 2015, accounting for 406 out of 1,065 FDI projects in the UK, followed by Greater Paris with 159 FDI projects. The Munich and Bavaria area in Germany emerged as the fastest growing urban area for investors in 2015, with year-on-year growth of 134%.

Investor sentiment saw London maintain its place as the most attractive European city with Paris ranked second.

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Scotland also saw a successful 2015 with a 51% rise in FDI projects. By contrast, FDI projects in the south-east fell by 22% compared with 2014.

London’s rise as one of the best places to invest and the view that it is likely to produce the next big tech giant has been boosted by a thriving tech sector that has seen the likes of fintech become a hot topic.

As one of the leading financial services locations in the world, London, and the UK, has benefited from regulatory measures to help boost fintech development.

For example, the Competition and Markets Authority recently proposed that banks which offer current accounts should maintain open application programming interfaces and share data in order to force greater transparency for account holders and to increase competition between banks.

The Financial Conduct Authority has also given a helping hand by opening up its sandbox for banks and fintechs to develop in.
Combined these moves help to show why London and the UK is thriving when it comes to FDI and tech development.

This good news comes at a time of uncertainty regarding the UKs future with Europe. The on-going ‘Brexit’ debate appears to not have impacted FDI or London’s image, although the EY report figures are from 2015 when the debate was perhaps not at the same fevered pitch as it is currently.

Both sides of the campaign claim that the EY report supports their argument but a recent poll by techUK found that the vast majority of UK tech companies (70%) want the UK to remain as a member of the EU, while Microsoft and HPE have also voiced their support in favour of the UK staying in the EU.

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