Tech and Brexit: London is still Europe's top tech hub, but for how much longer?

London is still ahead of Berlin and other European cities on investment, but the Brexit vote casts a cloud of uncertainty over the future.
Written by Steve Ranger, Global News Director

Old Street is still at the heart of London's tech startup scene.

Getty Images

London remains Europe's top technology and financial hub, according to a poll of US tech executives -- at least for now.

Following the UK's vote to leave the European Union (EU) there has been concern that tech companies would hold back on investing in the UK. However, according to the poll commissioned by the mayor of London, US execs currently still rank London above other European cities as the top location for setting up a European operation, citing London's access to finance, talent pool, favourable time zones and lack of language barriers.


Top European cities for technology

Source: London & Partners

US investment into the UK's tech sector also remains strong, with the capital's tech companies attracting more than $425m in funding across 33 deals since the June Brexit vote. Since January 2011, US venture capitalists have invested $4.4bn into UK tech startups and other businesses -- compared to £3.8bn in Berlin (London's closest rival) and $1.8bn in Stockholm.

London's mayor Sadiq Khan is currently in the US with 30 UK tech companies, on a trip aimed at strengthening business ties between London and the US following the EU referendum vote.

"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," said Khan.


US venture capital investment into technology across European cities between Jan 2011-September 152016.

Source: PitchBook Research

But regardless of how optimistic execs in the US are, tech companies in the UK are already feeling less bullish about the future following the Brexit vote.

Years of uncertainty

A survey in August found that only one in five companies were positive about the impact of the vote to leave on exports beyond the EU, with half expecting the vote to have a negative impact on foreign investment and R&D spend in the UK over the next two years. And as the government has yet to decide what the UK's post-Brexit relationship with Europe will look like, companies are likely to face significant uncertainty for years to come.

Jan Hammer, a partner at San Francisco and London-based venture capital firm Index Ventures, said: "We believe that for the foreseeable future London will remain the preeminent European base for startups and retain its role as a key launchpad for US companies expanding to Europe. There is no denying that the Brexit vote has created uncertainty about the future relationship with the EU and the impact it will have on hiring and trade, however, all of these changes will take years to negotiate before they come into effect and should not deter companies from expanding into the capital."

BounceX, a New York-based marketing software company, said it has chosen London for its European headquarters and plans to employ over 300 people in its London office over the next five years.

More on tech and Brexit

Editorial standards