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Brexit deters some international staff from London tech firms - survey

[LONDON] One in three tech companies in London have seen talks with potential international hires fall through due to Britain's decision to leave the European Union, according to a survey from industry body Tech London Advocates.

As a result nearly two-thirds of London's tech entrepreneurs believe Britain's vote to leave the European Union has already damaged the international reputation of the city's tech sector, although they still said it was the best place for start ups.

Britain's digital sector has been vocal in its concern that Brexit, and in particular ending free movement of labour, could threaten London's status as the leading European destination for tech start-ups and investment by major internet groups.

Companies including Facebook, Google, Amazon and Snapchat have announced plans to expand in London since the Brexit vote, but have said they need to be able to attract the best people.

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Tech London Advocates, a private sector network of 5,400 tech founders in Britain, said one in three companies had struggled to secure an international hire which they attributed to Brexit, according to a survey of 113 of its members.

But 60 per cent said they still believed London was the best place to start a tech company.

"Entrepreneurs are defined by their ability to turn challenges into opportunities and the sentiment across London's tech sector is increasingly one of determination, conviction and ambition," said Russ Shaw, founder of Tech London Advocates.

"Slowing down access to European talent will make growing a tech company harder, but London is focused on strengthening its relationship with tech hubs across Europe and around the world that are already fuelling our investment pipeline." Prime Minister Theresa May said on Tuesday that Britain would double the number of visas available to exceptional workers in areas like tech and science to 2,000 to help keep the country ahead after Brexit.