By Alexa Garthwaite, Business Development Manager, Executive Offices Group
Throughout London’s history, different quarters of the city have been home to a certain group of professionals. Harley Street has been noted since the 19th century for its collection of top-end medical specialists; the area surrounding Chancery Lane is predominantly occupied by legal firms; hedge funds and boutique financial services firms favour offices in the West End and Soho is home to hundreds of media agencies. The most recent of these business communities is now coming to be established at Shoreditch’s Old Street Roundabout — now officially named ‘Tech City’.
Sitting on the border between the boroughs of Hackney and Islington, the area harbours a variety of web-based companies, technology start-ups and growing businesses. It has also sardonically received the nickname ‘Silicon Roundabout’ after California’s Silicon Valley, when it was discovered that a large and growing group of technology companies had gathered in that neighbourhood.
Described as an ‘ever growing community of fun startups’, the area has attracted so much attention that global technology giant, Google, has taken the decision to launch ‘Campus’ — the largest co-working space and entrepreneur community in Tech City. Google is essentially entering the serviced office market, establishing Campus with the aim to ‘fuel the success of the UK start-up community’. It will be a seven story office building where start-ups and entrepreneurs can choose to hire desk space, meeting rooms and event areas. In a university-type setting, Campus will also feature guest speakers, entrepreneur-focussed events and mentoring programmes, in order to encourage entrepreneurs to develop their ideas in a creative and innovative environment.
The Government also has welcomed Tech City and has pledged its support to do everything it can to accelerate its growth. Established by UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), the Tech City Investment Organisation aims to develop the area into a leading and global destination for tech entrepreneurs. Headed by a group of expert entrepreneurs, technology specialists and inward-investment professionals, the organisation brings knowledge and international connections to Tech City, providing expert support and practical solutions for start-ups and growing businesses.
This initiative has been supported by the Government and expert groups to help nurture and support the next generation of London start-ups and growing businesses. It shouldn’t be forgotten that many of Silicon Roundabout’s original start-ups have attracted very serious money as they were bought by global technology corporations: Last.fm by CBS for US$280m; TweetDeck by Twitter for about $40m; and Dopplr by Nokia for around about US$20m.
As Tech City continues to grow, so too does its potential. By actively mentoring the new generation of tech start-ups in a time where graduate unemployment is at its all time highest, students will be more inclined to turn their attentions away from highly sought after and extremely competitive jobs in the City and instead to the booming industry of technology-based start-up businesses that just might go global. With the right ideas discovered at the right time, these start-ups have the potential to turn into multi-million dollar corporations. Tech City has shown that it has endless capabilities and by establishing an effective catalyst-like Campus, Google is demonstrating to the world as attention turns to London’s Olympic summer, the importance of building business communities in cities like London that are bursting with potential.
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