For start-ups looking to grow their business, California’s Silicon Valley provides a huge amount of inspiration.
This corner of the Golden State, north of the Bay Area, has given birth to some of the biggest companies and organisations to grace the world. A perfect example of its success is the 2010 US drama film The Social Network charted how Harvard University student Mark Zuckerberg began to build what would go on to be the social media giant Facebook.
Following the move from Massachusetts to California, Facebook’s progression accelerates and quickly forms what is today one of the most used websites all over the globe. It is just one of the many success stories that have come out of this part of the US. Other high profile corporations such as Apple, Adobe, Google and Yahoo! all currently reside close to San Jose.
Whenever an innovative business space or idea comes along there are bound to be others that want to build something similar themselves. This has been the case in both New York and London with the latter creating East London Tech City in the 2000s. Over the years, like California, small and large companies have relocated their operations to here.
Let’s take a look at what has made East London Tech City what it is.
East London Tech City, or Silicon Roundabout, began its life as a place where companies could be based and launch investment programmes. In the early days the likes of Last.fm, TweetDeck, Songkick, Squiz and Bright Lemon were among the first organizations to move into the premises.
It became a prominent feature of London’s growing commitment to encouraging new businesses to resist the urge of the US and base themselves in the UK. Being situated in the East End of London it sits between Old Street and the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, playing part of the London legacy.
Continued to evolve
The development of the technology cluster is something which the coalition government has been keen to invest in ever since it came to power in 2010. Only a year into their stewardship and prime minister David Cameron named entrepreneur Eric van der Kleij to lead the project from November 2011.
Speaking at the time, Mr van der Kleij explained: “That makes it the fastest-growing tech cluster in Europe, and without the government writing huge cheques.
“Some ask why they should set up there. I say the cluster is where your business is most likely to succeed. Your partners clients, investors will be there. You’ll be able to hire people. You’ll come up with great ideas.”
This kick-started the attraction to this corner of Shoreditch and companies came flooding into the capital. Around 200 firms set up shop in the Tech City and it was starting to gain a huge reputation across the globe. The flagship announcement was in September 2011 when Google stated it had purchased a seven-storey building near Old Street roundabout.
Google’s relocation really put London on the map when it came to technology clusters and allowed it to rival the likes of Berlin when it came to a European home for start-ups.
Since Google’s announcement, more and more companies have seen the London Tech City as a place where they can organically grow their operations. Some of the biggest organisations in the world have moved in to try something a bit new within their own day-to-day businesses.
Facebook confirmed that it would be using the Tech City to create a base for its Developer Garage programme in the hub while Google said that it would be launching an Innovation Hub in the area to help develop next-generation applications and services. Other major companies such as BT, Cisco, EE and Amazon have all seen the Tech City as a place to trial new services.
What does the future hold?
The future is looking bright for East London Tech City. As more organisations move there is much more scope for the expansion of new services and bringing the English capital to the forefront of modern technology.
It has not been without criticism however with the think tank ‘Centre of London’ describing the development as a “marketing gimmick”. In a 2012 article in the Financial Times, the think tank argued that the Tech City was situated on the wrong side of London and had poor links for Heathrow Airport. It instead championed Manchester as a much better option.
However, prime minister David Cameron believes that the Tech City could set to benefit generations of young and gifted entrepreneurs.
Mr Cameron said: “Backing the industries of the future is a key part of our long-term economic plan to support business, create more jobs and build a more resilient economy.
“The digital economy has become an integral part of our country and the rapid growth of many digital businesses has confirmed Britain’s position as a global hub of technology excellence.”