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Mayor Khan promises London will remain ‘open-minded’ tech space post-Brexit

Mayor Sadiq Khan says London will remain a top ‘outward-looking’ tech location regardless of the European Union referendum result

London mayor Sadiq Khan has said the city will remain an “open-minded” location for technology firms to do business in Europe, despite the looming threat of Brexit.

Khan made the declaration during a conference, which was held on 17 July and hosted by WeWork, to promote London’s city-to-city collaboration with Chicago, whose mayor, Rahm Emanuel, was also in attendance.

Regardless of the European Union (EU) referendum result, London will continue to be “open-minded, outward-looking [and] the best place in the world if you’re talented and you want to fulfil your potential”, Khan said during his time on stage.

To back this point, he cited recent investments from tech giants Google, Apple and Facebook in the capital. One of the investments from Google was as recently as 13 July, where it announced the opening of its first UK datacentre region, which will be aimed at users of the Google Cloud Platform.

In September 2016, Apple announced its plans to move its London base to the Battersea Power Station, and Facebook said in November that it would increase its UK workforce by 50% by employing 500 staff for its new London headquarters.  

“We should be confident because the underlying strengths of London are still here – great universities, great talent, a digital system second to none, the diversity and all the things that we love about London. But we can’t be complacent,” said Khan.

The continued success of London is indicated by the fact that the city’s tech companies have received £1.8bn in venture capital investment since the Brexit vote.

London has attracted more businesses from Chicago, Khan revealed, over the past decade than any European city. These include the likes of AoN, Jones Lang LaSalle and Boeing. Post-Brexit, the city has also reaped the benefits of investments from Chicago’s Baker & McKenzie, Eris Exchange and TJM Holdings.

Khan said he’s keen to capitalise on this trend by forging closer ties with Emanuel and the city of Chicago.

“I’m looking forward to a friendship between Rahm and myself growing, and also those from America and those from Chicago here building friendships with the Brits and the Londoners,” he added.

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In September 2016, Khan brought a trade delegation consisting of the 30 fastest growing companies in London to Chicago and New York to find new investment possibilities.

During his time on stage, Emanuel said he wants to keep the lines of communication open between the two cities and support their respective economic growth plans.

“Sub-national relationships are more important – or equally as valuable – as the national relationship. The first trip to the US from London under the new mayor was to come to Chicago and then New York and build those relationships. We’re here to extend that and keep that going,” he said.

“The economic and cultural partnerships between Chicago and London have generated unparalleled investment and job creation on both sides. Together with mayor Khan, we are going to continue to strengthen these partnerships to benefit cities for years to come.”

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