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Plexal’s Claire Cockerton: ‘Brexit has made it harder for tech firms to hire CEOs’

The chief executive of Plexal, a new innovation hub in east London, has warned that Brexit has already made it harder for British tech companies to hire top class CEOs from Europe.

Speaking at Plexal’s official opening, Claire Cockerton told New Statesman Tech that uncertainty over EU citizens’ rights in the UK had made the capital a less attractive prospect for European executives.

“CEOs won’t uproot their family and come to London without a sense of assurance about the future for themselves and their families here,” said Ms Cockerton.

She added that the result of last week’s general election, in which the Conservative Party lost its majority in the House of Commons, signaled that the public is not ready for a hard Brexit.

“That is nothing but good news for the technology sector. We depend on access to the single market, on access to talent, on being a thriving hub for investment,” said Ms Cockerton.

The founding chief executive has been tasked with developing Plexal into London’s leading innovation hub.

Located in the Olympic Village, the centre will be home to startups building connected devices in health, sport, fashion and IoT.

Ms Cockerton said she hoped the centre could help plug gaps in the London’s angel and venture capital funding landscape.

“Investors in the UK and Europe have a bit more of a risk filter on their profiling [than investors in the US],” said Ms Cockerton.

“So it is true that we have experienced gaps in the angel and VC trajectory, but it’s not unsolvable.”

Plexal will soon announce its own fund with the capacity to invest tens of millions of pounds in London startups, Ms Cockerton told New Statesman Tech.

“We want to provide access to a wide range of funding,” Ms Cockerton added, suggesting Plexal would draw on alternative funding mechanisms devised by London’s fintech community.

Plexal has been formed by Entiq, a British tech consultancy formerly run by Ms Cockerton, and Delancey, the property owner that owns the Olympic Village.