"London Calling" Again

London is Open Panel
London is Open Panel

More than a quarter of a century after the release of the famous single by The Clash, London is calling again. But this time the message arrives not from a punk band: “London is Open” for business was announced by the recently-elected mayor of the British capital, Sadiq Khan, who kicked off his international trade mission to North America in a rainy New York City on Monday, September 19th.

Khan said that the goal of his mission is to strengthen business ties between London and the United States as the two most innovative tech and business hubs of the world.

The Deputy Mayor of London for Business, Rajesh Agrawal, presenting the event referred to London and New York as sister cities during a panel discussion at WeWork Headquarters in New York. The mission is to get US tech and business companies to expand and establish London as the base for European operations as well as for some of London’s fastest growing companies to secure investment and explore export opportunities into America.

According to a survey commissioned by London & Partners, the Mayor of London’s promotional company, London was the number one destination for US tech entrepreneurs who wanted to establish a European operation because of excellent access to finance, a diverse talent pool, a favorable time zone, and a common language. Mayor Khan said: “Our great city has long been at the very forefront of financial services. When you combine that with our new-found technological expertise, it creates an unrivalled opportunity for companies looking to break into the European market. Despite the country’s decision to leave the European Union, there is no doubt that London will continue to be the booming and successful city it is today, open to talent and creativity from across the world and a leading destination for American business.” This initiative is protecting London’s leading role in Europe post-Brexit.

Going back to the panel discussion, Sarah Wood, Co-founder and Co-CEO of Unruly, which helps make online video ads go viral mentioned that there are more female tech founders in London than in Silicon Valley. Why is that? Kathryn Parsons, Co-founder and Co-CEO of Decoded, which teaches people to code in a day, said that London has a supportive environment, access to investors, people are willing to help and then, pass it forward. Deputy Mayor Agrawal emphasized that women represent 50% of the workforce in the tech space in London. There is good education for children as well as 25 universities, all of which are in the Top 50 in the world. Not to mention fashion for fashionistas, culinary delights for foodies, museums, and concerts. Big urban cities are not only friendly to women, but also have good business infrastructures to help build and grow companies both small and large. Ms. Parsons keenly advocated for women and girls to be digitally competent and have increased confidence in order to lead and thrive. These two female entrepreneurs equally employ men and women but are interested in empowering women and girls.

London is the leading city for foreign direct investment from the United States and the leading destination city for foreign direct investment from New York City. There is synergy between these twin cities. After the panel discussion, London’s Mayor Khan remarked to his New York audience, “The best years are ahead of us. Thank you for being friends to London.” Then, the Mayor and his delegation were off to ring the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange to further highlight opportunities for trade and investment between London and the United States.

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