Jan 11, 2017
European cities hope to attract UK entrepreneurs after Brexit vote
With the uncertainty surrounding Britain's exit from the EU, some UK tech startups are seeking new headquarters abroad
An industry known for being open and liberal, the technology sector certainly didn't want to wake up to a smug and delighted Nigel Farage on the morning of 23 June. But like many others, the vote to leave the EU left some startups questioning where their future lies, particularly if they're confronted with issues around employing foreign staff.
While there's clearly been no mass exodus, more than six months later
some startups have made the tough decision to leave, while others are
still pondering whether or not to start afresh in Europe. With so many
tech hubs springing up across Europe, we take a look at the cities attracting British startups:
There's no question over which European city has been most vocal in
wooing British tech startups. Weeks after the vote, Germany's Free
Democratic party kicked off a charm offensive by running an ad on the
side of a white truck travelling around east London reading, "Dear startups, keep calm and move to Berlin". This was followed in November by Berlin Partner, the capital's marketing agency, running a pop-up lab in Soho highlighting what the city offers startups.
In Berlin you're part of a global and cosmopolitan crowd. "Berlin is international, with people from 190 nations," says Franzke, adding that 50% of employees working at startups in Berlin are from other countries.
Lisbon was thrown in the tech spotlight when the city hosted the Web Summit in November, marking the start of a three-year partnership between the city and the global tech conference. Choosing Lisbon over Dublin, its backdrop for the past three years, and other European cities has helped carve Lisbon out as a burgeoning tech hub. "The fact Web Summit elected Lisbon as the city to run the show from is a sign of something," says Rui Coelho, executive director of Invest Lisboa, the city's promotional agency. "Portugal is known for its sun, beach, food and wine and now tech is about to take off." At a time when many countries are talking of closing borders, Lisbon's door is firmly open, with Invest Lisboa on a mission to attract foreign companies, including UK startups. Coelho beats the drum for the city. "We offer a good quality of life, good infrastructure, it's affordable and it's a great city to work in. We are opening our doors."