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September 19, 2016

Post-Brexit London named best city in Europe for business

By Ellie Burns

Mayor of London reveals majority of US tech execs rank London as Europe’s leading tech hub. Despite post-Brexit concerns, US execs have positioned London as Europe’s number one business hub.

According to a post-Brexit survey of over two hundred senior US tech executives, London beat out other cities such as Berlin, Paris and Dublin as the leading tech hub in Europe.

The London & Partners commissioned poll, conducted in August after the EU referendum, also found that London was the number one destination for US tech executives looking to establish a European operation. Those polled named London’s superior access to finance, tech talent, ease of doing business, lack of language barriers and favourable time zones as reasons for choosing London as a European base.

Further analysis of the poll also revealed how London’s reputation as a financial hub is unwavering, with 57% viewing London as Europe’s leading financial services centre ahead of Frankfurt, Zurich and Amsterdam.

Seizing upon the favourable poll results, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan announced the findings in New York during his international trade mission to North America, aimed at strengthening business ties between London and the US following the EU referendum vote.

“Our great city has long been at the very forefront of financial services. When you combine that with our new-found technological expertise, it creates an unrivalled opportunity for companies looking to break into the European market,” the London Mayor told leading figures from New York and London’s tech communities at the event held at WeWork’s HQ.

“Despite the country’s decision to leave the European Union, there is no doubt that London will continue to be the booming and successful city it is today, open to talent and creativity from across the world and a leading destination for American business.”

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Although the London Mayor’s trade mission is aimed at driving greater collaboration between London and US tech hubs, Mayor Khan’s declaration that London remains open for US business may be at odds with recent news from over the other side of pond.

Reports have surfaced that Microsoft is set to close its London Skype offices, the European HQ for the iconic communications company. Nearly 400 staff will be made redundant, in a move which was called ‘disappointing’ by Russ Shaw, founder of Tech London Advocates.

Although it remains unclear whether the Brexit vote impacted Microsoft’s decision to close Skype’s London office, London Mayor Khan will hope to distract with further positive news about US venture capital investment in London.

US investment into the UK’s tech sector remains robust, with companies attracting more than $500m since June 23. London has received more than any other European tech hub, attracting $425m across 33 deals since the Brexit vote – more than Dublin, Paris and Amsterdam combined.

Jan Hammer, partner at Index Ventures, a San Francisco and London-based venture capital firm said:We believe that for the foreseeable future London will remain the preeminent European base for startups and retain its role as a key launchpad for US companies expanding to Europe.

“There is no denying that the Brexit vote has created uncertainty about the future relationship with the EU and the impact it will have on hiring and trade, however, all of these changes will take years to negotiate before they come into effect and should not deter companies from expanding into the capital. Our investment strategy hasn’t changed and we are encouraged by the steps the Mayor of London is taking to protect London’s leading role in Europe.”

London Mayor Sadiq Khan used today’s event to argue that London should be the first choice for US tech companies considering business markets outside the US. He urged them to follow the example of two New York based businesses, which today confirmed that they are expanding their operations in London.

One of the companies announcing further expansion in the UK is WeWork, which will be opening two additional spaces in London. The company, which provides shared workspaces for entrepreneurs and start-ups, will open a space in Hackney and a new flagship location near Covent Garden.

BounceX, a New York-based marketing software company, also announced its intention to set up a European HQ in London. The company’s first office outside the US, the London HQ announcement comes just weeks after the Inc. 5000 named BounceX the #1 fastest growing software company in America in 2016.

“As a high-growth company, BounceX is always looking for opportunities to further our reach and better serve our clients,” said Ryan Urban, Co-Founder and CEO of BounceX.

“Our European client base is always on the rise so London’s vibrant tech community was the obvious choice for our first foray into international expansion.”

“Our London team is not only well positioned to serve the needs of existing clients, but will also be able to meet the growing demand for the BounceX platform among European businesses.”?

Thirty of London’s  fastest growing technology companies joined Mayor Sadiq Khan at today’s event, with the companies looking to secure investment and explore export opportunities into America. The US is the UK’s largest single trading partner and is the destination for 20 per cent of all UK exports.

The Mayor will finish his promotional push today by ringing the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange, joined by a delegation of London based female entrepreneurs.

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