London is considered the tech capital of Europe but this title is being challenged by Berlin, its closest rival, in the wake of Brexit.
Berlin has seen Britain’s decision to leave the European Union as an opportunity to boost its own vibrant tech ecosystem, already housing more than 100 tech incubators and accelerators.
The Senator for Economics, Technology and Research for the state of Berlin, Cornelia Yzer, has launched a campaign to woo London-based tech talent and startups to the city, with its much cheaper rents – compared to London – and buzzing creative scene.
Soon after the referendum that saw Britain vote to leave the EU, Senator Yzer received emails from UK-based companies and startups enquiring about Berlin, a spokesman for the Senate Department for Economics, Technology and Research told Chief-Exec.com on Tuesday.
Senator Yzer’s office then sent out letters not only to London-based tech firms and startups but also to multinational companies with their European headquarters in the UK, including London, and investors. The letters laid out the advantages of relocating to Berlin and welcomed companies to the German capital, the spokesman said.
The Berlin Senate and Berlin Partner for Business and Technology, its partner agency for business contacts, both launched websites in English with a special section on Brexit, explaining how to relocate to the German capital, with a message saying: “If you consider relocating your business, you’re welcome in Berlin”.
Senator Yzer opening the Berlin trade office in London in September 2016
Senator Yzer also spoke in July at the annual London Fintech Week conference about Berlin’s assets, meeting interested startups and investors.
And two weeks ago, she opened a Berlin trade office in north London in a space shared with KPMG, a professional sevice company well connected to the startup tech scene.
Other major European cities are actively trying to compete with London and take advantage of the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, but London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan is convinced his city will retain its position as Europe’s top tech hub.
“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,” Mr Khan said recently while visiting New York and meeting tech entrepreneurs.
He said London remained the top destination for setting up a tech operation in Europe, ahead of other cities such as Berlin, Paris and Dublin.
Mr Kahn’s comments are based on a poll commissioned by London & Partners – a not-for-profit public relations company funded by the mayor’s office and a network of commercial partners – of more than 200 US tech executives who praised London’s access to finance and infrastructure, its pool of tech talent and cultural diversity, as well as its lack of language barriers.
“Since June 23rd London has received more investment than any other major European tech hub, with London’s tech companies attracting $425 million across 33 deals since the Brexit vote – that’s more than Dublin, Paris and Amsterdam combined. Examples include WeWork, BounceX and Wells Fargo,” a London & Partners spokeswoman told Chief-Exec.com.
Mr Khan added in a tweet, as he was seen on September 16 with Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel signing a new tech agreement: “As Mayor, I’ll take London’s tech sector to the next level”.
By Katia Yezli