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Moving office: Where’s best for your startup post-Brexit
Posted by Caitlyn Stevens on 06 Feb 2017
Theresa May delivered her long-awaited Brexit speech in January to mixed reactions. Her commitment to pulling out of the single market has led many to worry about the future of business in this country.
As early as June, when the referendum result was announced, startups had begun to worry. Single market access, freedom of movement and a strong currency were all important parts of the UK startup landscape. With all of those things hanging in the balance, many startups began to question their future in Britain, looking to move office to tech hubs overseas.
If you are planning on a European office move as Brexit draws closer, where is the best alternative? Here are some of the best ideas.
Moving to Berlin
Berlin has already claimed success in “luring” tech startups away from London. Brightly coloured vans were sent to London bearing the text ‘Dear Startups, Keep calm and move to Berlin’ in the days after Britain voted Leave. They were sent by Germany’s Free Democratic Party as an ad campaign to take advantage of many startups’ burgeoning uncertainty. But does it offer a genuine alternative for terrified techies?
One of Berlin’s main advantages for worried UK startups is its proximity to London. A mere 579 miles away, this is the kind of distance that can be covered by land vehicle. You could hire a van yourself, although the logistics of returning it can be difficult. A better alternative would be to check out the options on a delivery comparison site like AnyVan to find office removals companies.
Aside from ease of moving there, Berlin has many advantages as a startup-friendly city. Currently, one new startup is founded every 20 minutes in Berlin, and the industry is set to spawn 100,000 new jobs over the next three years.
Your personal life wouldn’t be bad either. An in-depth survey ranked Berlin as the number one city for millennials due to affordability and standard of living among other factors.
Moving to Silicon Valley
The startup centre of the universe, Silicon Valley is still the epicentre of the tech world. Home to legendary former startups like Facebook, Netflix, Apple and Google, Silicon Valley is still the destination of choice for small tech companies with big dreams. But does it deserve its reputation as a startup haven?
Independent analysts Compass Startup Genome recently carried out a survey to see which areas were most favourable to startups and, to no one’s surprise, Silicon Valley, California came out on top. The area’s startup ecosystem (network of support and resources a startup needs to grow) was rated as the best of any place in the world and the businesses based there are some of the most profitable. Its image as a tech mecca helps draw in some of the most promising talent from the worlds of programming and development, meaning there will be plenty of eligible employees should your business expand.
Located just below San Francisco, much further afield than Berlin, Silicon Valley cannot boast accessibility as one of its advantages for emigrating London startups. The move will be expensive and time consuming, far more so than a simple van ride. Especially based on Donald Trump’s isolationist ‘America First’ rhetoric, which could make it more difficult to apply for a US work visa. But for those who want to take their startup out of London and into the heart of the world’s tech industry, it will be worth it, no matter how hard it is to get there.
Moving to Amsterdam
Much like Berlin, Amsterdam is another easy trip for Brexit-rattled businesses to make. Just a short flight or long drive away, the Netherlands’ capital may is so hotly-tipped as a new tech centre that it may eclipse both London and Berlin in the near future. Forbes have even named it as the alternative to Silicon Valley.
Those currently working in the tech industry seem to think so, anyway. A post-Brexit poll by TechCrunch found that entrepreneurs are more confident in Amsterdam’s future viability as a tech hub than they are of any other cities in Europe, with London being rated least likely to grow in the next two years.
So what is it about Amsterdam that makes startups so excited? Aside from the good quality of life and relatively affordable living cost, it is the city government’s attitude to startups that its most attractive quality.
Schemes like the Startup Visa allow entrepreneurs to reside in the country for one year to develop their ideas. Although this isn’t currently applicable to British startups currently thanks to EU freedom of movement, it may become vital in the near future. This scheme gives entrepreneurs a second chance to leave London post-Brexit should they choose not to leave immediately.
The Startup Visa is not the only government-backed scheme that encourages startups to move to Amsterdam. There are also tax breaks on foreign businesses as part of an overall effort to make the city as welcoming as possible for startups from around the world.