23 of London’s most promising and fastest growing tech start-ups are set to accompany Rajesh Agrawal, the Deputy Mayor for Business and Chairman of “London’s PR Agency” London & Partners, on a trade mission to Chicago and New York, whilst the mayor himself, Sadiq Khan, will also be joining them.
Stand-out start-ups including Lost My Name, the children’s book publishers, rewards voucher provider Shopitize, background checker Onfido, business travel app Jambo, and internet marketers Takumi International, will all spend seven days attempting to forge connections with “senior-level tech executives, pitching to international investors and meeting with potential clients and partners”.
Research from HMRC quoted by London & Partners suggests the US accounted for £4.4 billion of all British exports during April 2016, making it Britain’s most valuable trading partner.
The UK, in turn, according to research from the CBI, is the single largest investor in the US; in 2014, the UK pumped more than $449 billion into US enterprises, more than 15% of all investment into the country.
London itself is the “leading global city for foreign direct investment from the United States”, say London & Partners, who have helped 572 companies from the US set up in London, which has created more than 16,000 jobs in the capital.
The mayor is expected to hammer home the message that “London Is Open”, in keeping with the highly successful PR campaign recently run by his office, with the aim of persuading foreigners and tourists that London, in the wake of the shock Brexit vote (which only around 30% of Londoners were in favour of), remains “open for business”, and as tolerant and multi-cultural a society as ever.
“London is one of the most vibrant and diverse places in the world to start and grow a technology business. These high growth companies have the potential to become the next global tech giants and I am delighted that they will join me in showing the world that London is open to talent, business and collaborations”, the mayor commented. Are you listening Donald Trump?
Sarah Wood, CEO of ad-tech company Unruly, which was acquired by News Corp in December 2015, and the Mayor’s International Business Programme Mentor, also commented “I have seen first-hand the fantastic opportunities for London tech companies looking to grow their business in the US market. Like London, cities such as Chicago and New York have thriving technology hubs with all the right conditions for a high-growth technology business. It is important that we continue to support our domestic tech stars on the next stage of their growth journey.”
Research released by London & Partners has revealed that venture capital investment into London’s tech start-ups “remains strong”, attracting $1.3bn of funding in the first six months of 2016, and significantly, more than $500m since the decision to leave the EU was taken.
According to Janet Coyle, the Principal Advisor to the International Business Programme, “London is a hot-bed for fast-growing digital companies. From fintech to cleantech, the businesses on the programme demonstrate the breadth of London’s tech expertise and talent across a range of sectors.”
Sandra Sassow, CEO of SEaB Energy, who visited to Silicon Valley earlier in the year as part of Female Founders International, winning a “number of new customer orders in the US”, in the process, “the purpose of this second visit is to explore further opportunities in localising our production in the US as well as meeting with potential distribution and maintenance partners.”
British start-ups haven’t always gained the recognition they deserve in the US, whose disruptive tech hubs, namely Silicon Valley in California, and New York’s “Silicon Alley”, but also including Denver, Colorado, Portland, Boston, Seattle, home of Microsoft, and Austen, Texas, are the most successful, certainly in terms of turnover and profit, in the world.
But given the much publicised fall out between the EU’s competition Commission, led by Margrethe Vestager, and the likes of Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Google, who stand accused of not paying sufficient tax and unfairly skewing markets in their favour, the trip comes at an interesting time.
Britain and London may be looking to offset some of the losses likely to be incurred by start-ups doing business in Europe as Brexit takes hold by trying to build relations with the US, but could end up driving even more of a wedge between themselves and mainland Europe.
The Mayor’s international Business Programme is a £5m initiative that is funded in part by the European Regional Development Fund, with the aim of supporting “export success across a range of key markets in Europe, Asia and North America.”
Throw in Khan’s much publicised fall-out with presidential candidate Donald Trump, and this should be one diplomatic mission worth keeping an eye on.
Go team London!