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Texas startups look for partners in London's Tech City

A delegation of Austin-based tech companies are touring London's 'Silicon Roundabout'

A delegation of Austin-based digital media and gaming companies embarked on a tour of London's Tech City yesterday, with the aim of identifying potential partnerships and growth opportunities in the area.

The group, which consists of representatives from nine Austin-based companies - including Appconomy, the Central Texas Angel Network (CTAN), Phunware, Portalarium, Replay Games, Ricochet Labs, Small World Labs, Spredfast, and Third Cousins Media - is participating in a two-day programme of activities and workshops alongside several of their British counterparts.

In these sessions they will receive advice about setting up operations in London, and also hear from some US-based companies that have successfully entered the UK market.

The delegation is being led by the Mayor of Austin, Lee Leffingwell, together with The British Consulate-General, UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) and the Tech City Investment Organisation (TCIO). The visit is timed to coincide with a pre-briefing for the South By Southwest Interactive event, where the digital media companies have an opportunity to meet and address these potential partners.

"We are proud to be representing the best of Austin's start-up scene to our London counterparts," said Andy Jones, Business Development Director at Small World Labs. "This will be a great opportunity not only to showcase what we're doing and explore potential new business opportunities here in the UK, but to learn and take some ideas back with us to Austin."

A friendship agreement between the London Borough of Hackney and the City of Austin will also be signed, seeking to intensify co-operation between the City and Borough in the high-tech sector. It will also explore opportunities to collaborate on big events, such as the Olympics, as well as sustainability projects.

"Hosting such a talented group of entrepreneurs to Tech City is a great chance for us to showcase London, but to also look for growth opportunities," said Eric van der Kleij, CEO of TCIO. "Austin has really established itself as a hub of innovation and this mission will lay the foundation for increased collaboration and partnership between our thriving technology communities."

Austin, Texas, is home to many high-tech companies. Freescale Semiconductor is headquartered there, and AMD, Apple, Google, IBM,Intel, Qualcomm, ShoreTel and Texas Instruments all have prominent regional offices there. Dell's Worldwide Headquarters is in Round Rock, a suburb of Austin.

Last month, Suresh Kumar, the Assistant Secretary of Commerce in Barack Obama's administration, highlighted that US IT companies are increasingly choosing to set up shop in Britain because of its educated workforce, democratic values, common language, robust trading ties and its geographical position as a gateway to Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.

There are now around 3,500 US companies which have a British base, said Kumar. However the UK needs to offer more tax breaks to encourage even more American firms to launch in this country.

"There are always avenues to improve," he said. "One of the things would be a taxation environment which would be more inviting for particularly small and medium enterprises to set up shop here."

The UK government has been keen to highlight the role of Britain's IT sector in driving the country's economic recovery, and recently introduced lifetime capital gains tax relief for entrepreneurs, meaning that the first £10 million of capital gain is taxed at just 10 percent. The R&D tax credit also means that companies get 225 percent in tax credit for the investments they make in R&D.

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