If you haven’t heard about the quick rise of the London startup scene, it’s time you pay attention. The East London area of Shoreditch, near old street is now known as “Silicon Roundabout” (See UPDATE below) the UK’s rival to California’s Silicon Valley, which started as a government effort to rejuvenate East London, the traditionally poorer part of the city, before the Olympics. Quoting the UK PM David Cameron:
“Our ambition is to bring together the creativity and energy of Shoreditch and the incredible possibilities of the Olympic Park to help make East London one of the world’s great technology centres.”
Boris Johnson, the mayor of London also didn’t spare his enthusiasm:
“The digital economy is booming right across London. I want London to be a beacon for the digital economy and with world-class creatives, advertisers and academic institutions we have everything this sector needs thrive.”
Several hundred startups are already operating in the area, and the hope is that many more will decide to set their base in the Shoreditch area. This tech cluster is not only helping the city generate jobs and tax revenues, but is also forging the much needed tech community in London.
Below are 10 links to help grasp what Tech City UK is all about:
- Infographic mapping London’s 600 tech startups http://goo.gl/TD5dc
- Interactive map – all companies and startups operating in East London http://goo.gl/hAQON and criticism (what is really a ‘startup’ vs a company) http://goo.gl/kRQYP
- Curated view of London startup tweeps (by Twitter account):http://goo.gl/baISS
- TechCity UK announcement of all the corporations that have already announced plans to be involved in TechCity including Cisco, Google, Amazon, PayPal, Vodafone, VC funds, etc http://goo.gl/2QkQt
- The British Prime Minister celebrates TechCity in publicized visit: http://goo.gl/4vMVh
- SatrtupDigest, a free weekly newsletter listing all the best tech events of the week (also available for other cities)- highly recommend to subscribe before you visit London! http://goo.gl/DeGNf
- StartupBritain, a campaign launched by UK entrepreneurs with an aim to accelerate enterprise in the UK. Lobbied the ‘Entrepreneur visa‘ among other things – http://www.startupbritain.org/
- Wired crowns London as the European Startup capital – see what makes it especially attractive PDF version
- Angel List, one of the most disruptive inovations in funding, has been giving startups more and more exposure to foreign and local angels at the early stage.
- London’s most influential people in Digital media, according to the Evening Standard top 1000 list http://goo.gl/ReawI
On one hand, initiatives like Tech City UK don’t solve most problems that Europe presents for entrepreneurs: lower availability of capital, fragmented markets and availability of skilled talent. On the other hand, it’s a great start, and this sort of movement is taking place in other European cities such as Amsterdam, Berlin, Barcelona, Tel Aviv, Copenhagen, Paris. European entrepreneurs no longer need to get on the plane to California as soon as they want to start a venture. The combination of a startup community, government backing (grants, visas, UKTI promotion, etc), accelerators and a growing network of mentors, makes it feasible for them to keep at least one leg in Europe.
UPDATE: several people commented on HN and Twitter that startups were in East London way before the government decided to invest in the area. According to one comment, the term “Silicon Roundabout” origin…
was a jokey term coined (by Matt Biddulph) to describe a bunch of companies working and socialising in the area. That was a few years ago, since then it’s become a big PR thing for local companies (mostly co-working spaces) and now government.
Obviously, startups are the main driving force of East London, and not the government.