Google's still committed to the UK after Brexit promising major investment

Lynsey Barber
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Google will expand its footprint in the UK depsite Brexit (Source: Getty)

Google remains committed to the UK the tech company's top boss has said, with its headcount set to nearly double in the coming years as it goes ahead with plans for a new £1bn headquarters.

"We see opportunities here," said Sundar Pichai on his first trip to London since becoming chief executive. However, a crackdown on skilled immigration would be a "worry".

"The innovation we see here, the talent we have available here and how on the cutting edge of technology we are able to be here makes it an incredible place for us to invest," he said in an interview with the BBC.

Read more: Google just promised everyone in the UK free digital skills training

"We do value how open and connected it is and we can bring in talent from anywhere in the world and we value those attributes and we are optimistic that those will stay true over time."

The company will plough ahead with plans to build a new purpose-built headquarters in King's Cross, making room for its number of employees to almost double to 7,000.

The 650,000 sq ft building will be designed by Thomas Heatherwick.

“Here in the UK, it’s clear to me that computer science has a great future with the talent, educational institutions, and passion for innovation we see all around us. We are committed to the UK and excited to continue our investment in our new King’s Cross campus,” said Pichai.

Google leases a building at 6 St Pancras Square housing 2,500 employees. A second building that Google will lease is being constructed and is expected to be completed in 2018.

Read more: Watch out for 'decacorns' thriving in London

The Google-built office, thought to be costing £1bn, will bring its footprint in the UK to one million sq ft. Question marks had been left hanging over whether the firm would continue with the ambitious development after it was delayed due to redesigns, meaning its completion would land after the EU referendum.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan called the latest move a vote of confidence for the capital.

“Google’s commitment to London is very welcome. This is a global, pioneering company at the forefront of new technology – and so London, a pioneering city, and home to many of the world’s most talented and innovative people, is a great and natural choice for expansion," said Khan.

Pichai also today announced plans to give everyone in the UK access to digital skills training and offer experience of virtual reality to more than one million school children across the country.

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