London Mayor: Choose Us Over Silicon Valley 'Donut Shacks'
London's Mayor Boris Johnson has argued that the city he presides over is far more attractive than Silicon Valley as a base for technology companies.
"I can't see why the quality of life for these young, brilliant minds is so much higher [in Silicon Valley]. You've got lots and lots of sort of donut shacks and pizza huts and roundabouts, it looks like anywhere else to me," Johnson told CNBC on Tuesday after returning from a visit to Silicon Valley in the U.S.
"I think, London is far more attractive frankly as a place to live. It's got the vibe, it's got the most amazing culture that's developing in the Shoreditch area," the mayor added.
According to Johnson, London's tech city roundabout area, also known as Silicon Roundabout has produced 40,000 jobs over the past four years. The tech cluster in east London is home to companies such as Google, Intel and Amazon. But the size of the tech industry in London is still dwarfed by the financial sector, which despite massive cuts in recent years, employs 320,000 people.
Johnson said Europe had lagged behind the U.S. in creating the environment for tech companies to flourish and he said policymakers needed to support investment in the sector and encourage companies to list on the London Stock Exchange.
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"One of the mysteries of life has been: why is it that in America, you have these gigantic tech concerns that have grown up in the last 20-30 years, Europe has never really produced entities of a similar size, and we're trying to answer that conundrum today."
Johnson conceded that the cost for businesses operating in London was quite high.
"There are huge non-wage costs that businesses face in the whole European Union, that's one of the problems that we've got and obviously, we're trying to address it," he said. "I think that's one of the reasons why David Cameron is trying to get Britain out of the social chapter. A lot of the stuff has become too rigid and makes it difficult... to hire people and to have the proper labor market flexibility."
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Johnson also said it was time to look at personal rates of taxation in the U.K., which he said were higher than rates in key competitor countries.
"I would like to see that come down and I hope very much that will come down in the budget in March."