London Mayor Drives to Keep City as Europe's Startup Hub

(Bloomberg) -- Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has announced a new program of investment days for London startups, as he tries to maintain the U.K.’s position as a European hub for young tech companies.

The U.K. national trade body for early stage companies will help run 20 investment days in London over the next four years, providing coaching and connections to potential investors. A total of $740,000 in support will be made available -- half to underwrite the cost of running the program, half in the form of consultation services from the U.K. Business Angels Association.

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 startup nation,” while local billionaire Xavier Niel has spent 250 million euros ($291 million) to transform a former Parisian freight station into a 34,000-square-meter (366,000-square-foot) startup campus containing 3,000 desks for rent.

The Mayor’s latest announcement comes almost a year after he launched a 7 million pound ($9.2 million) fund to give the city’s younger population access to jobs in the tech industry. Khan 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," Khan said in a statement. "This is a clear sign London is open for business."

In a February survey of 940 startup executives in the U.K. and other nations, one in 10 said 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 Inc., the world’s largest startup, is appealing a decision by London transport regulator -- led by Khan -- to revoke the car service’s license.

Last year, Facebook Inc. said it planned to increase its U.K. headcount by 50 percent. Snap Inc. has also named London its international hub and Alphabet Inc’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 Thursday.

©2017 Bloomberg L.P.