Nobody is taking London’s crown as the best city in Europe for digital entrepreneurs. Not yet anyway.
For the second year in a row, it has been crowned the best EU city for digital entrepreneurs.
According to innovation foundation Nesta and the European Digital Forum’s European Digital City Index, the capital is still the best city in Europe for startups, thanks to its access to capital, buzzing entrepreneurial culture and access to a skilled workforce.
It stayed ahead of Stockholm in second spot, Amsterdam in third and Helsinki in fourth, with Paris rounding out the top five. London came top for both startups and scale-ups measuring 10 core themes, including mentoring and business environment.
The ranking of 60 European cities featured nine in the UK, with six in the top 20. Cambridge came in at 12th thanks to its access to mentoring, while Bristol was 13th, Oxford 15th and Manchester 16th.
While one of the main weapons in the capital’s armoury is its access to a skilled workforce, some tech groups are concerned as to whether this will still be such an asset post-Brexit. Theresa May has been determined to keep her cards close to her chest, but has said she will trigger Article 50 by March 2017.
Chris Haley, head of startup and new technology research at Nesta, said: “If Brexit affects the ability of startup and scale-ups to obtain top talent and access markets, that would clearly be a significant problem. I would urge government to be aware of the digital skills that are in short supply and ensure that due consideration is given to highly skilled migration.”
“This is welcome news and once again, highlights the global importance of London’s diverse tech community,” said Romilly Dennys, executive director of the Coalition for a Digital Economy (Coadec). “But also demonstrates the need to encourage tech-driven growth across every city and region of the UK. The top concern is access to talent – both global and domestic. Clamping down further on skilled immigration is not the answer.”
City Hall has committed to making London’s voice heard on the access to talent front.
Rajesh Agrawal, deputy mayor for business, said: “There’s no doubt that London’s growing success as a tech hub is built upon our world-class pool of talent – so it is more important than ever that companies in London and across Britain have access to the global talent they need to grow and create jobs and prosperity.”
He said the mayor Sadiq Khan “will continue to make the case to government to ensure we have a flexible approach to bringing in global talent”.
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Tech City UK’s chief executive Gerard Grech said: “Access to talent is a critical issue for the city’s tech community and Tech City UK is working closely with government to make sure it understands why companies and entrepreneurs need to be able to continue highly skilled staff from around the world because of their rapid rate of growth.”
He also pointed to Google’s big recent announcement that it was ploughing ahead with its £1bn London headquarters. The attraction of London to global tech firms had been called into question after the UK vote teo leave the EU referendum in June.
“As Google has shown with its renewed commitment to King’s Cross this week and plans to create 3,000 more jobs here, London remains the European centre of the tech world and we intend to work hard to keep it that way,” Grech said.