Britain wants to woo more US tech entrepreneurs and encourage them to set up shop in London and elsewhere in the UK, in a bid to steal the crowns from San Francisco and New York as the hottest tech hotspots in the world.
London is the most desirable destination for foreign tech workers in Europe looking to relocate and more popular than Berlin and Paris, attesting to the capital's status as a global tech hub. But, the two US cities inched ahead in the popularity stakes, according to a survey by YouGov for London and Partners.
The research comes ahead of the launch of a new campaign designed to attract more US tech entrepreneurs to expand their businesses to London and the UK.
A host of well known British tech champions will travel to the international SXSW tech festival in Austin, Texas next week to champion Britain's tech credentials, including Ben Medlock, the founder of Swiftkey, the keyboard app snapped up my Microsoft for millions last month.
The mission is part of the government's ongoing Great Britain campaign designed to attract trade and tourism to British shores and involves UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) alongside the London mayor's promotional agency.
“London is already Europe’s leading destination for international technology companies looking to expand globally. But the research findings also demonstrate that London has joined San Francisco and New York to become one of the world’s leading tech hubs," said London and Partners' chief Gordon Innes.
"With easy access to world-class tech talent, international markets and a culture of innovation, we have already seen American tech companies such as Facebook, Amazon and Google establish a strong presence in the UK. We look forward to welcoming more US businesses and entrepreneurs to take advantage of the fantastic business and lifestyle opportunities that London and the UK has to offer,” he added."
Workers in Europe are attracted to the capital's international travel connections and cultural diversity as well as its creative and innovative environment, according to the research.
The UK is often seen as a gateway to Europe, attracting many US companies looking to set up European headquarters and a friendly regulatory environment is also a draw.
“The UK offers a host of opportunities for overseas entrepreneurs and tech businesses alike," said US entrepreneur and chief of London-based startup Duedil Damian Kimmelman.
"The UK’s open approach to data, strong government support, availability of finance and access to technical talent made it the perfect location to implement our business idea and scale the company."
The new push follows controversy over the tax arrangements of the US tech giants Facebook and Google with HMRC in Britain. Google faced a grilling from a panel of MPs to explain its tax bill while Facebook last week said it will pay millions more following criticism of its structure that meant it paid just £3,327 in corporation tax in 2014 - less than the price of an annual commute to London.
The government has remained confident that the public backlash will not put off tech companies from wanting to come to the UK. At the time, digital minister Ed Vaizey told City A.M. “Those tech companies recognise we are putting in place appropriate tax arrangements in place and they come here for a whole host of reasons such as skills, creativity and access to European markets.”