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July 22, 2014

Why London, not Dublin, is the digital capital of Europe

And why it's the best place to do business.

By Amy-Jo Crowley

London, not Dublin, has been dubbed the digital capital of Europe thanks to the growth of the latest technology startups shaking up financial services in the UK and beyond, according to Tech City UK.

The government body, set up in 2010 to promote east London as a tech hub, yesterday briefed participants on its competition to invest up to £1m to support small- and medium-sized businesses working on the Internet of Things.

Called Launchpad, the competition is supported by the UK’s innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board and Cambridge Wireless and aims to support research projects centred around the clusters in Cambridge and London.

Gerard Grech, CEO of Tech City UK, told CBR London is clearly a "digital power house" and the "best place to start a business".

"I think this government has put together a comprehensive package of incentives to create the right conditions for growth," he explained.

"If you look at all aspects, skills development right through to access to finance, if you look at the SEIS scheme, which offers tax breaks to investors investing in early stage companies…You also have the patent box, which is offering 10% corporation tax on profits made from the exploitation of intellectual property.

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"So these are some of the initiatives put together to fast track the growth of this sector, which in my opinion is unrivalled in the world."

When asked why he thought London was the digital capital of Europe and not Dublin, he said: "London is truly international city and it has a very diverse pool of talent from software design to hardware design to big data.

"Also, there’s already evidence showing that it is a great place where technology starts to cross over into other business verticals and a good example of that is FinTech.

"There are now more people working in FinTech within 20 miles of London than there are in New York City or Silicon Valley and that’s no surprise because London is a financial services hub internationally."

He added: "When you start to combine that technology, you start to get a critical mass of excellence in FinTech. So if you combine that with the strong access to finance that you have here through the capital markets and the investor community and the talent that you have here, you really truly have a strong proposition."

The announcement comes as a recent Bloomberg Philanthropies report showed that the greater capital has 44,000 FinTech employees compared with 11,000 in Silicon Valley and 43,000 in New York.

It also comes after Nitro, a provider of document productivity and workflow solutions, told CBR back in February 2014 that Dublin is the Silicon Valley of Europe.

"No disrespect to London, which has a vibrant little startup ecosystem. But it’s staggering how quickly the startup economy has bloomed in Dublin," he explained.

"There’s a pool of tens of thousands of highly skilled workers in Dublin to pull from – many of whom have already been working for west coast start-ups in their EMEA operations. We evaluated London and Dublin side by side but we ended up being more convinced by Dublin."


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