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Brexit: the French start-ups between anxiety and pragmatism

After the vote in favour of the Brexit, the contractors installed in London take in the shock. The british capital will remain the paradise of the start-up? Opi

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Brexit: the French start-ups between anxiety and pragmatism

After the vote in favour of the Brexit, the contractors installed in London take in the shock. The british capital will remain the paradise of the start-up? Opinions differ, and caution is required.

"Hello the community of French Tech London, We had planned to launch next week our service to help the boxes of tech growth to develop in the UK. With the Brexit we wonder if we should not change our tactics? What do you think?". The message left by the French entrepreneur on the group Facebook of the French Tech of London, sums up well the climate that reigns across the Channel from Friday 24 June and the vote in favour of Brexit.

The results of the ballot boxes have opened the way to an infinite number of questions which, for the moment, nobody seems to have answers. "I like the city-world, very international in London, tells the story of Xavier Louis. I really hope that this spirit will remain." Xavier is the head of a company of 35 people, called Peak.net and comprising 15 different nationalities. The first concern of the French installed in Britain over the past 13 years, regarding the recruitment of foreign talent. "Until now, it was not the question to recruit a candidate in europe, but it will be there also easy to the future?" if he asked.

it is Necessary to obtain a visa or a work permit in order to cross the borders ? If nothing is down for the moment since the divorce between the British and the EU has not yet started, this rule could still be applied by default and showed some hopes to the passage. "I fear for the attractiveness of the city in a broad sense, the fear that some students or promising young professionals to opt for another destination, which was considered more inviting", concluded Xavier Louis.

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Everything changes but nothing changes

on Friday 24 June in the morning, Charles van Overmeire has taken the principle of reality full in the face. "All of the questions that we were asking all the "what if?" turned into concern. Now, it must reflect and anticipate the consequences." Charles and his partner did not take long to decide. "We need to open a R&D centre but I think that we will rather choose to do in France, to be certain to stay completely in the area of the EU", explains the boss of xRapid, application that can diagnose disease from a drop of blood. No question, however, of deserting the banks of the river Thames. "There is no reason to go immediately, it would be a leak and nothing grows on it but it is true that it was a little more doubt about the result. And it is as a form of rejection, this vote. While the start-ups still represent 27% of hires in London."

But the Brexit has not yet triggered desire, moreover, among the 40 000 French companies implanted there. "Once digested the surprise - and yet not so much for those who had followed the campaign - and swallowed his tears of europhile, thoughts are cold, and we say that anyway, it's going to happen before at least two years, analysis Martin Mignot, investor at Index Ventures. And English culture is very liberal so they will have at heart to maintain trade and the good performance of the business."

in his eyes, the SMES british who do business with an EU country or who are riding on a number of currencies were more to be feared that the start-ups that settle from the outset the idea of a global market. "There is a risk what in the months to come ? Of uncertainty ? But it is already the daily life of a start-up, including those that launch, so I don't think that this is an obstacle, argues Martin Mignot. The boxes are used to rotate, move, adapt continuously, and the Brexit does not change much, in the end."

A fracture in the country more than in the business

Fiona Designi, founder of the website, Rentez-vous, which allows you to rent his clothes, and is not concerned particularly, it not more. "A box like ours is far from the issues of fintechs (start-up of the financial sector), for example, that they may fear that the changes regulating their is a serious problem and that they will lose their benefits in this great movement and post-Brexit", says the young woman. Obviously, this vote in her adopted country was marked as a citizen, than as a creative enterprise. "For me it is rather the evidence of a political shock and the acceleration of a dramatic variance between London and the rest of the country. This operation at two speeds becomes more than obvious."

London will lose its luster, and give up ground in the race between cities to become the ecosystem more attractive ? In 2015, the Global Ecosystem report placed the city in the 6th position when Paris was only 11th. "It is necessary that France communicates to the bottom and tries to seduce the start-up, there are more events and networking," says Charles van Overmeire.

Read our complete file

Julia Bijaoui, Frichti: "Our mantra on the defence of the 'eat well' takes all its meaning" For 5000 euros, these start-ups will electrify your old car Kat Borlongan, French Tech : "To get by, the only solution is solidarity"

For Martin Mignot, on the other hand, it is an illusion to think that Paris is going to take advantage of the situation. "Paris is already a lot to communicate and attract entrepreneurs, and this is not a campaign that will change anything, since France has structural constraints, he says. It is necessary to review the taxation, the administrative complexities and increase the international potential of the city with more appointments English-speaking." A week after the vote, nothing has (yet) changed...

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