A German politician is writing to London startups in an attempt to persuade them to relocate to Berlin after the Brexit vote.
Berlin Senator for Economics, Technology and Research Cornelia Yzer is warning British companies that remaining in Britain after the country leaves the European Union will damage their businesses, and she says that Berlin will provide resources that will help them relocate.
“Britain’s vote to leave the European Union will severely affect your operations in the United Kingdom,” the letter reads. “Probably you will already check the feasibility to move your company right in the heart of the European Union.” (Scroll down to see the full letter.)
Yzer’s pitch continues: “Berlin is not only the capital of Europe’s strongest national economy but also the fastest growing state in Germany … Berlin is an international open-minded city attracting highly qualified talents from all over the world. The Startu-up community number one in Europe is based here.”
It’s not clear how many of these letters have been sent out, and Cornelia Yzer’s office did not respond to a request for comment. But the German politician has been vocal in her attempts to attract British talent to Germany. “We will now take advantage [of Brexit],” she said in the aftermath of the referendum in June. “And this is more than fair.” And at London Fintech week in July, she claimed that more than 100 British startups have contacted her office asking about relocation.
Surveys showed the British tech sector was overwhelmingly against the idea of Britain leaving the European Union, and uncertainty remains around what the contentious referendum will mean for the sector in the long-term. London is an epicentre of European tech, but restrictions on access to the Single Market, or difficulties in recruiting European talent could prompt some companies to relocate for better access to the continent.
Cornelia Yzer clearly sees an opportunity for her city, and she’s trying to cash in.
One recipient of the letter was Maz Nadjm, CEO of brand advocate platform SoAmpli. “The best word I can use to describe what I thought [upon receiving the letter] is ‘cheeky’!” Nadjm told Business Insider. “Also, I admired how extremely efficient the service was, providing all relevant details about what to do as next steps. It clearly showed that the senders had done their homework about the audience they were trying to engage.”
The London entrepreneur, whose company employs six people, says he was flattered by the invitation — but relocation probably isn’t on the cards. “As tempting as moving to Berlin may be, Europe has never been our plan. We have been looking at the US as we believe it is a stronger market for us. Last but not least, London is our home and we will continue to have a key base here.”
Nadjm recognises that Brexit will have an impact on the London tech scene in the short term — but he’s optimistic. Via email, he told us (emphasis ours):
“For a long time, the UK economy has been able to attract start-ups from all over Europe, inspiring a lot of tech companies to establish their presence in London due to the openness and structure of the environment that helps them set up their business quickly and easily. At the same time, many American tech companies have established their presence in London (rather than, let’s say, Milan, Berlin or Paris) to go ahead and expand their business in Europe. No other European region has this advantage, as well as the maturity of the digital and social media market I’ve mentioned before. So, I believe that the tech sector in the UK will be able to manage Brexit – sure, there is going to be an impact at least on the short term, but you know what? If we, as a tech start-up, were able to sell more after Brexit than we ever did before, I see reasons to be optimistic. If you manage to plan your finances and survive the short term impact, you can function anywhere and ensure a better future for your company, regardless of Brexit.”