With a large percentage of our clients coming from the tech sector it is interesting to note that almost 9 out of 10 technology companies polled by industry group Tech London Advocates are against the UK leaving the EU. The survey of the group’s 3,000 members suggested a number of reasons for this: fear that leaving the EU would make it harder for British customers to reach customers in Europe; fear that it would become more difficult to recruit overseas talent; and concerns that it would become harder to persuade EU companies to branch out to the UK.
If Brexit does go ahead, this could certainly impact London’s flourishing tech scene. The capital’s well established position as a global leader in tech relies not only on our own creativity, but on our transparent business practices that have enabled strong networks in Europe and across the globe. Cross border collaborations have become commonplace; we work with a number of clients that have offices in the UK as well as other European countries and are often approached by companies that want to expand in to and out of the UK.
Another concern not mentioned in the poll is that London’s ability to attract tech start-ups and entrepreneurs from overseas could be hindered. Already the escalating costs of living and securing workspace are inhibiting people’s desire to come to the city, and if the UK leaves the EU the increased paperwork involved could pose an even greater obstacle.
This could give other global cities an edge over London. Berlin’s tech industry is well established and could be an obvious choice for a tech company from outside Europe looking to put down some roots. We’ve worked with companies in Madrid, Amsterdam and Stockholm to name a few cities, all of which could prove popular options if the business of setting up in London becomes more difficult. Across the Atlantic, cities such as LA or Austin are also attracting their fair share of tech communities, as well as Silicon Valley.
All businesses, not just the tech industry, operate on a global playing field now, which is evident in how the occupiers who we advise search for space. Many of our clients, from international corporations down to start-ups looking to have just one desk, want a space in London to complement offices in other countries. Coworking spaces are an excellent way for a company to achieve this.
The UK government is placing a lot of emphasis on the growth of our digital economy and seemingly relies upon it for the country’s future prosperity. Though nothing is certain, a Brexit could spell trouble.