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Berlin comes balls out post-Brexit to woo London startups

It’s three months since we pushed the Brexit button and still we’re no clearer on when, how, or even, if, we’re really, really, properly, really leaving the EU.

Although Teresa May has said “Brexit means Brexit”, the actual details of Brexit weren’t defined and are still pretty open for debate, interpretation, probably even manipulation.

“Brexit” in itself doesn’t actually mean a great deal at all.

Just last week, Japan, the country, waded in with its view on what we should do given that it has hundreds of thousands of staff in the EU. That’s namely keep all of the ‘best’ bits:

  • maintenance of trade in goods with no burdens of customs duties and procedures
  • unfettered investment
  • maintenance of an environment in which services and financial transactions across Europe can be provided and carried out smoothly
  • access to workforces with the necessary skills
  • harmonised regulations and standards between the UK and the EU

But the EU has been pretty chilly on letting the UK have continued access to the (digital) single market, financial service passporting, etc, without accepting free movement. Japan reckons we should just have both, a lot like just having EU membership…

Back in the UK, some, like Daniel Korski, former special adviser to David Cameron, have penned positive pieces on “our bright digital future outside the European Union”. TechCrunch’s Mike Butcher, felt the decision hard and he still seems to be trying to work out the best way to just… not Brexit.

Relocation, relocation, relocation

Many simply think that Berlin, Ireland and Amsterdam are about to become the big winners of a post-Brexit startup exodus. Relocation was one of the key issues NS Tech wrote about on Brexit day itself and waiting in the wings was the city of Berlin, which has today opened up its second international trade office, this time at the Interchange Triangle up in London’s Chalk Farm.

Berlin’s Senator for Economics, Technology and Research Cornelia Yzer appeared at the  launch event to say:

“The United Kingdom and London are important trade partners for Berlin. Both cities are strong startup hubs. That’s why we’re interested in keeping up the dialogue with our London partners.

“But Brexit has created a lot of uncertainty. Many companies now think about Berlin to grow their business or relocate. With a new office in Berlin, we want to offer first-hand information and business support for those companies. They’re more than welcome in Germany’s strongest tech hub.”

Berlin has really marked itself as a friendly and welcoming home for refugees finding themselves in Europe, rocket-powered by the tech community. Now it’s here to offer a hand of friendship to those startups who’ll probably need an office within the EU more than one in London right now.

The hub will be looked after by KPMG and offer startups, companies and investors advice about opening up a satellite office or relocating to Berlin, as well as providing German firms with a route into the UK.

Berlin is cheaper and probably cooler – a German court has just deemed techno to be as important a cultural asset as classical music, with the landmark court case ruling to protect Berlin’s famous Berghain club. That’s just as London’s Fabric nightclub and alternative arts venue Passing Clouds look set to become the latest victims of the developers-over-communities atmosphere in the UK capital.

Berlin’s first trade office opened in Turkey last May, another shrewd move given the relationships the German capital is now building with Middle Eastern countries and the untapped talent that comes when refugees land on its doorstep.