Latest News / German party in billboard bid to woo British start-ups

German party in billboard bid to woo British start-ups

A German political party is attempting to woo British start-ups to Berlin following the UK's vote to leave the EU.

The Free Democratic Party (FDP) hired an ad-van emblazoned with a billboard aimed at enticing companies to move to the German capital in the wake of the referendum result.

The Berlin branch of the FDP, a junior coalition party to Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats between 2009 and 2013, drove the van across London on Tuesday ahead of a key regional election in September.

The billboard reads: “Dear start-ups, Keep calm and move to Berlin” and has been pictured across central London on social media.

Sebastian Czaja, FDP candidate in the Berlin election, said the move was an attempt to make the city the “capital of start-ups in Europe”.

Mr Czaja said the appeal was launched “in light of Brexit” and added he wanted to “significantly reduce the barriers for start-up companies in Berlin”.

In the last national election in Germany in 2013, the FDP failed to pass the 5% threshold necessary to enter parliament, for the first time since 1949.

Last week it was revealed that London-based tech start-ups were starting to see funding dry up in the wake of the referendum result, with many now considering plans to ditch the capital.

Netz, which provides data to financial companies, saw five investors suspend hundreds of thousands of pounds in promised money within 24 hours of the vote.

The firm also faces the risk of not being able to tap enough talent as Britain’s departure from the EU could make it more difficult to hire from the bloc’s other 27 countries.

The tech sector is particularly dependent on accessing talent easily. A 2015 survey by Wayra found that one third of employees in tech start-ups in Britain are from outside the country, and one in five comes from another EU nation.

Duedil, a financial technology, said it is growing too quickly to have the luxury of waiting for Britain’s relationship with the EU to be clarified over coming months.

As a result, it has drafted a plan for a European office and is set to decide in the next few weeks whether that will be in Berlin, Dublin or another European city.

The van was hired from ad company Gorilla Media with a spokesman telling the Press Association they thought the stunt was “a bit of fun”.

Matt Smith, director of StartUp Britain – a campaign group aimed at helping people set up and grow their businesses – said: “Berlin is a great city. But London is the true European home of entrepreneurial Schopfungskraft.

“Part of our capital’s attraction is its gateway status – indeed, London is a global city located in Europe. That hasn’t changed because it cannot change: it is an historic and geographic fact. London is where European entrepreneurs come to go global.

“Here are the ideas, the talent, the funding and the subsidiary services, a pull force without parallel in any other city around the world. No amount of wishful thinking – or even lobbying – can remove that.”


Photo from Free Democratic Party / PA Wire

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