Rohan Silva, former technology advisor to prime minister David Cameron, today said London is the only city in Europe with a true venture capital industry.
The man responsible for driving the Tech City initiative in its early days, said: “There’s only one place in Europe that has a venture capital industry and that’s London. Lots of cities like Copenhagen and Berlin have some great [venture capital] funds but it’s only London where there are 30 [venture capital] funds and hundreds of angels.”
Silva, who spent a year working at Index Ventures in London’s Mayfair district, said startups from across Europe regularly fly to London to pitch VCs at the likes of Index, Balderton and Accel, but he rarely saw UK firms flying to other large European cities, such as Paris or Berlin.
The Tory politician-turned-investor-turned-entrepreneur claimed the UK tech ecosystem is thriving at the moment due to public policies like the enterprise investment scheme (EIS), which offers tax breaks to angel investors, and the Tier 1 exceptional talent visa, which is designed to allow UK startups to fast track some of the best international talent into their company. While it's hard to argue with the former, Techworld recently found the visa scheme to be struggling, with visa-endorsement body Tech City UK only receiving a handful of applications.
London's reputation as being one of the world's leading financial centres, along with the likes of New York and Tokyo, is often cited as a key factor when it comes to explaining the large sums of venture capital money in the city. Tech startups in London are largely concentrated around Shoreditch, which is up the road from the banks in the City of London and a short Tube journey from the venture capital houses, hedge funds and private equity firms in Mayfair.
However, many of Britain's most prominent entrepreneurs, including Huddle CEO Alastair Mitchell and Stripe CEO John Collison, have said that London's venture capital scene is dwarfed when one looks at California's Silicon Valley, where there is said to be more venture capital money on one street in Palo Alto (Sand Hill Road) than there is in the whole of London.
The claim aroud London being the only true venture capital industry in Europe was made at TechCrunch Disrupt in London today after journalist Mike Butcher questioned whether there was any competition between European tech investors.
Silva’s latest project is Second Home - an exclusive private members-style club for technology startups.
The only way that companies can become a part of Second Home is via referrals and recommendations. Silva is optimistic that this will lead to London’s most creative community.