East London Tech City
East London Tech City (also known as Tech City or Silicon Roundabout) is a technology cluster located in Central and East London, United Kingdom. It broadly occupies the part of London's East End between Old Street (the boundary of Central and East London) and the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, with its main focus around the Shoreditch area.
Development of the cluster has been encouraged by both local and national government, with the goal of creating a cluster comparable to Silicon Valley in the United States. Cisco, Facebook, Google, Intel and McKinsey & Company are among the companies that have invested in the area. City University London, Imperial College London, Loughborough University and University College London are academic partners in projects based in the cluster.
The term Silicon Roundabout refers to the high number of web businesses located near the Old Street Roundabout (on the boundary of Central and East London), and as a reference to Silicon Valley in California. The terms East London Tech City, Tech City and Silicon Roundabout can be used interchangeably.
Amongst the first technology companies located in the area were Dopplr, Last.fm, Consolidated Independent, Tinker.it, TweetDeck, Berg, Trampoline Systems, AMEE, Skimbit, Fotango, weartical.com, Rummble, Songkick, Squiz, Techlightenment, Poke London, Kizoom, BrightLemon, Redmonk, MOO, Believe.in, LShift, Livemusic and WAYN.
In 2008, there were around 15 media and high-tech companies in close proximity of the Silicon Roundabout, which forms the heart of Tech City. Plans to help accelerate the growth of the cluster were announced by Prime Minister David Cameron in a speech given in east London on 4 November 2010. A year later, Cameron announced that he was appointing entrepreneur Eric van der Kleij to lead the initiative. In 2010 there were 85 startup companies in the area. By 2011, approximately 200 firms were occupying the area, signifying a rapid increase in interest. Wired magazine updated this figure in 2012 and suggested some 5,000 tech companies were located in the wider area centred on the Old Street roundabout. Wired maintains a topic on the area.
On 28 September 2011 it was announced that Google had acquired a seven-storey building near Old Street roundabout. Google said that the building, in Bonhill Street, would host "a range of activities, such as speaker series, hackathons, training workshops and product demonstrations" in addition to providing workspace for new companies. The building, known as Google Campus, opened in March 2012.
Notable technology companies active in the cluster include:
- Amazon - has opened its Digital Media Development Centre in the area
- Aurora Fashions  - the company behind Coast, Oasis and Warehouse occupies one of the largest buildings around the Old Street roundabout (Exchange House) and with mobile sites and apps
- Avoiding Mass Extinctions Engine (AMEE)
- BT - has agreed to accelerate the roll-out of superfast broadband in the area
- Cisco - has agreed to establish an Innovation Centre in the Olympic Park
- EE - has committed to introduce 4G in the Tech City area
- Facebook - has agreed to create a base for their Developer Garage programme in the hub
- Google - has created an Innovation Hub in the area to develop next-generation applications and services (whilst retaining its UK headquarters also in central London)
- Growth Intelligence
- Intel - has established a new research lab in the area focused on performance computing and new energy efficiency technologies
- New Brand Vision - a digital agency based in Shoreditch providing website and digital marketing services
- Qualcomm - has agreed to provide intellectual property advice to start-up companies based in the area
- Simply Business
- Sports Interactive
- Startup Weekend
- Tug - search engine marketing led agency specialising in pay per click, display advertising, search engine optimisation, affiliate marketing and social media marketing.
- Tweet Deck
- Ve Interactive - an e-commerce solutions provider based in Clerkenwell
Educational institutions active in the cluster include:
- Imperial Innovations (the technology-transfer company of Imperial College London) - has agreed to advise on the creation of an accelerator space for spinout companies at the Olympic Park
- Loughborough University and University College London - have agreed to work with the Olympic Legacy Company to establish a bridge between academia and enterprise in the Olympic Park.
Financial and professional services providers
Financial and professional services providers active in the cluster include:
- Barclays - has agreed to create a new facility to provide specialist banking services to technology companies based in the area
- McKinsey & Company - has agreed to provide advice on the creation of the hub and help to new companies starting out in the area.
- Silicon Valley Bank - has agreed to establish a UK-based bank to provide financing for technology and life science companies based in the area
- Taylor Wessing - opened the cluster's first dedicated law firm office in October 2011
A number of not-for-profit organisations have created a sense of community in the area including Independent Shoreditch, a business alliance, and Digital Shoreditch, which organises monthly meet-ups plus an annual festival of the same name, as well as for-profit organisations like Silicon Roundabout, which is a conduit for office space in the area.
Public sector organisations
Public sector organisations active in the cluster include:
- City of London Corporation - assisted in the creation of the Innovation Warehouse
- Tech City Investment Organisation (TCIO) - a quango founded by the UK Government department UK Trade & Investment to encourage the growth and development of the Tech City cluster.
The rapid growth of the cluster has met with some criticism. Think tank 'Centre for London' said the development had little focus and could be counter-productive. The think tank also raised concerns over a skills shortage, connectivity, lack of mentoring and rising costs. Tech City has been called a "marketing gimmick" on the wrong side of London (away from Heathrow Airport) which is still over 30% more expensive than any city outside of London. James Dyson criticised the government for spending money on the scheme to attract international companies who drive up rents instead of helping start-up and hardware companies who argues have greater potential than software and internet companies.
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- Tech City News, "London's Top Tech for Social Good," August 13th 2013.
- Aurora Fashions
- EE Mobile Network
- "Tech City gets law firm boost". City AM. 24 October 2011. Retrieved 15 October 2013.
- Independent Shoreditch
- Silicon Roundabout
- "Tech City UK: The Digital Capital of Europe". UK Trade & Investment. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
- "Tech City startups voice criticisms over Technology Strategy Board". The Guardian. 13 March 2013. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
- "Government's Tech City start-up strategy criticised". BBC News. 29 June 2012. Retrieved 2012-10-12.
- "Manchester is magnet for tech pioneers". The FT. 10 October 2012. Retrieved 2012-10-12.
- "James Dyson criticises government focus on software and Tech City". pcadvisor.co.uk. 26 September 2012. Retrieved 2012-10-12.
- "London's moment: the tech cluster in the east of Britain's capital is on a roll". Wired. 5 April 2013. Retrieved 8 April 2013.
- "Silicon Roundabout". The Economist. 25 November 2010. Retrieved 8 April 2013.
- Cellan-Jones, Rory (2012-05-09). "Start-up Britain - Cambridge v Tech City". BBC News. Retrieved 2012-05-09.
- Tech City Investment Organisation
- East London Tech City on Twitter
- Tech City News
- Department for Business, Innovation & Skills
- Tech City Jobs