Five years ago, Silicon Roundabout, an area stretching from Old Street to Shoreditch, kick-started a technology evolution in the UK’s capital. Since then the digital sector has become a top priority in Britain’s business growth plans. Tech City has established itself as the digital capital of Europe and is changing the business environment inside and outside of London. In a recent report the number of tech/digital companies incorporated in London nearly doubled from 49,969 in 2009 to 88,215 in 2012. The Tech City UK initiative was started three years ago by developing a business area in East London, dubbed Silicon Roundabout, with the goal of making it Europe’s tech’ capital. But does it have the potential to fulfil expectations?
Amongst the developments, Mobile network EE has partnered the Tech City project by promising companies in the area first access to its new 4G 300mbps mobile network. They have also pledged to trial all new network innovations in Silicon Roundabout, as well as foster a mentoring programme for small businesses in early growth. Following Tech City’s success the London Stock Exchange has introduced a new UK Digital Services Index which will broaden the definition of what an internet service business is. This reflects the growing importance of the digital industry to businesses in the UK.
Silicon Roundabout may have been contrived from the Silicon Valley name, but has yet to produce a Facebook, Google, or Twitter scale enterprise. East London based SnapFashion enticed £300K in private investment and won three tech start-up competitions including the Cisco BIG award worth £106K. But like many other UK based digital companies, they’re finding it hard to impact on the mainstream. London City start-ups secured £215m through private investment in the first half of 2013. This is in stark contrast to the Californian investment achieved in the same period, which eclipsed the $3b mark. But is the true test for Silicon Roundabout whether it will produce a massive global brand?
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