The Silicon roundabout, London’s own Silicon Valley

East London Tech City (also known as Tech City or Silicon Roundabout) is a technology cluster located in Central and East London. It is the third-largest technology startup cluster in the world after San Francisco and New York City.

Old_Street_Roundabout_from_above_in_2012Silicon Roundabout’s firms are generally small-to-medium sized and highly specialised. One makes software for the fashion industry; another runs an online dictionary. There is a hotel-comparison website, a firm specialising in 3D and interactive content, and several digital-design firms with their own niches.

The congregation owes something to the advantages of London generally: its wealth, its appeal to global talent, the English language. But the entrepreneurs in Silicon Roundabout stress the unique draw of the east of the city, with its bohemianism and relatively cheap rents, for young, creative workers. “If we were in west London, we would be a completely different type of business,” says Steve Hardman, the co-founder of SocialGo, which helps clients build their own online communities.

The spontaneous rise of Silicon Roundabout might have persuaded the government to leave well alone. Instead, David Cameron recently unveiled a plan to support it. As well as tinkering with the legal framework in which such businesses operate—by creating updated “entrepreneur visas” to bypass ill-judged new immigration restrictions, for example—the government has persuaded technology titans such as Google and Cisco to invest.

What is needed above all, agree many in Silicon Roundabout, is simply more success stories. American investors are keen on high-tech start-ups because they have seen many grow into world-beaters. Until east London produces its own Facebook or Apple.

Source: The Economist


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