Image Source: Pablo Cabezos
Rebecca Wayman

London signs partnership deal to strengthen investment opportunities with Lille

Today, the cities of London and Lille have signed a landmark agreement to strengthen trade and investment ties following the proceedings of Brexit.

Lille is the latest major European city to sign up to the Mayor of London’s city-to-city Business Welcome programme, an initiative focussed on establishing a global network of cities to help entrepreneurs develop businesses across different markets.

The city-to-city programme, led by London & Partners, was launched earlier this year by Sadiq Khan and Paris Mayor, Anne Hidalgo. Since the first agreement between Paris and London, other cities, including Berlin and Amsterdam, have joined the programme.

Deputy mayor for business, Rajesh Agrawal, said: “Following the EU referendum, it is more important than ever for London to maintain strong working relationships with major European cities such as Lille.

“London and Lille share many strengths in retail, business and culture and there are opportunities to help businesses on both sides of the Channel. I look forward to leading 15 of London’s fastest-growing companies to Lille, to explore business opportunities.”

Lille’s commitment to the programme follows the recent news that the region’s economic development agency, Hauts-de-France, has opened an overseas office in London to provide assistance to UK entrepreneurs looking to do business in Lille and the wider Hauts-de-France region.

The Business Welcome programme includes assistance with company set-up, access to coworking space, introduction to the local tech ecosystem and networking, and discounted accommodation and transport.

Damien Castelain, président of Lille Metropole, added: “London and Lille Metropole are two territories with a strong culture of entrepreneurship and innovation.

“The Metropolis has established itself as France’s leading centre for retail and technology and we look forward to welcoming the London delegation to explore everything the metropole has to offer.”

The partnership has been announced to coincide with a trade mission to Lille led by deputy mayor for business, Rajesh Agrawal, of 15 of London’s most exciting retail tech companies.

The retail tech entrepreneurs joining the mayor’s International Business Programme trade mission are travelling to explore expansion opportunities in one of France’s largest business centres.

Today’s trade mission will offer the scale-ups the chance to meet with top French retail companies, such as Europe’s number one sports retailer, Decathlon, and home improvement and gardening retailer, Leroy Merlin.

The one-day trade mission is being led by the Mayor’s International Business Programme in partnership with KPMG.

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