The City of London. Picture: THINKSTOCK
The City of London. Picture: THINKSTOCK

London — Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has announced a new programme of investment days for London start-ups, as he tries to maintain the UK’s position as a European hub for tech firms.

The UK national trade body for early stage companies will help run 20 investment days in London over the next four years, offering coaching and connections to potential investors, alongside $740,000 in funding.

In the wake of the Brexit vote other cities are making greater plays to attract entrepreneurs.

French President Emmanuel Macron has called to make his country "a start-up nation", while local billionaire Xavier Niel has spent €250m to transform a former Parisian freight station into a 34,000m² start-up campus containing 3,000 desks for rent.

Khan’s latest announcement comes almost a year after he launched a £7m fund to give the city’s younger population access to jobs in the tech industry.

He has also recently appointed the city’s first ever chief digital officer, Theo Blackwell.

"Since I became mayor, the capital has attracted significant investment from the biggest players in this sector — Google, Facebook and Apple, to name just three," he said in a statement. "This is a clear sign London is open for business."

In a February survey of 940 start-up executives in the UK and other nations, one in 10 said that they were considering shifting their headquarters onto the continent, with Paris, Berlin and Amsterdam often talked about as potential homes for future bases.

Meanwhile, the message to overseas tech companies operating in London has been mixed.

Uber Technologies, the world’s largest start-up, is appealing a decision by the London transport regulator — led by Khan — to revoke the car service’s licence.

In 2016, Facebook said it planned to increase its UK headcount by 50%.

Snap has also named London its international hub and Alphabet’s Google plans to expand to accommodate as many as 3,000 additional staff there.

"As mayor, I’m quite clear if we’re to safeguard our competitiveness and our reputation for cutting edge innovation moving forward, we must stay true to our open and outlooking traditions," Khan said at a Wired Live conference on Thursday.


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