East London Tech City

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East London Tech City (also known as Tech City and Silicon Roundabout) is a technology cluster located in Central and East London.[1][2][3] It broadly occupies the part of London's East End between Old Street (the boundary of Central and East London) and the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford,[1] with its locus in the Shoreditch area. It is the third-largest technology startup cluster in the world after San Francisco and New York City.[4]

The cluster of web businesses initially developed without any government backing in and around the Old Street Roundabout (on the boundary of Central and East London). This had been a relatively run down area, north of the City of London, and has historically had much lower rents. Companies were encouraged into the area by the low rents after the 2008-2009 recession. There had been many architectural firms in the area that closed around 2009, further suppressing rents. Ironically the area around Old Street was not served back in 2008-2009 by fibre optic cable, but only a few hundred metres away, where rents were much higher in the City of London, an extensive fibre optic cable infrastructure was already in place.

Later, as the cluster developed, there was more support and encouragment by both local and national government, with the goal of creating a cluster comparable to Silicon Valley in the United States.[1][5] Cisco, Facebook, Google, Intel and McKinsey & Company are among the companies that have invested in the area.[6] City University London, London Metropolitan University, Imperial College London, Loughborough University and Queen Mary University of London are academic partners in projects based in the cluster.[7][8]


Old Street Roundabout

Amongst the first technology companies located in the area were Dopplr, Last.fm, Consolidated Independent, Tinker.it, flubit, TweetDeck, Berg, Trampoline Systems, AMEE, Skimbit (now Skimlinks), Fotango, weartical.com, Rummble, Songkick, Squiz, Techlightenment, Poke London, Kizoom, BrightLemon, Redmonk, MOO, Believe.in, LShift, Livemusic and WAYN.

Plans to help accelerate the growth of the cluster were announced by Prime Minister David Cameron in a speech given in east London on 4 November 2010.[6] A year later, Cameron announced that he was appointing entrepreneur Eric van der Kleij to lead the initiative.[9] In 2010 there were 85 startup companies in the area.[10] By 2011, approximately 200 firms were occupying the area, signifying a rapid increase in interest.[11] Wired magazine updated this figure in 2012 and suggested some 5,000 tech companies were located in the wider area centred on the Old Street roundabout.[12] Wired maintains a topic on the area.[13]

On 28 September 2011 it was announced that Google had acquired a seven-storey building near Old Street roundabout. Google said that the building, in Bonhill Street, would host "a range of activities, such as speaker series, hackathons, training workshops and product demonstrations" in addition to providing workspace for new companies.[14] The building, known as Campus London, opened in March 2012.

In 2013 the Nominet Trust selected "5 startups making positive social change" which are based in the cluster: Streetbank, Give What You’re Good At, Videre Est Credere, Buddy App and PaveGen.[15]

A report by EY published in 2016 highlighted the importance of London to the UK's FinTech industry in terms of availability of expertise and demand for services.[16]


Investment in London's technology sector was $2.28 billion in 2015, 69 per cent higher than the $1.3 billion raised in 2014. Since 2010, London-based technology companies have collectively raised $5.2 billion of venture capital funding.[17]


Technology companies

Notable technology companies active in the cluster include:

Educational institutions

Educational institutions active in the cluster include:

Financial and professional services providers

Financial and professional services providers active in the cluster include:

  • Barclays - has agreed to create a new facility to provide specialist banking services to technology companies based in the area[7]
  • KPMG - opened a dedicated office in January 2013 providing accounting and tax advice to early stage technology companies[23]
  • McKinsey & Company - has agreed to provide advice on the creation of the hub and help to new companies starting out in the area[7]
  • Silicon Valley Bank - has agreed to establish a UK-based bank to provide financing for technology and life science companies based in the area[7]
  • Capco - relocated their UK headquarters to Great Eastern Street in 2014 (along with BOLD ROCKET), and is currently providing office space for small FinTech startups[7]
  • Taylor Wessing - opened the cluster's first dedicated law firm office in October 2011[24]

Community organisations

A number of not-for-profit organisations have created a sense of community in the area including Independent Shoreditch,[25] a business alliance, and Digital Shoreditch, which organises monthly meet-ups plus an annual festival of the same name.

Public sector organisations

Public sector organisations active in the cluster include:


The rapid growth of the cluster has met with some criticism. Think tank 'Centre for London' said the development had little focus and could be counter-productive. The think tank also raised concerns over a skills shortage, connectivity, lack of mentoring and rising costs.[28] Tech City has been called a "marketing gimmick" on the wrong side of London (away from Heathrow Airport) which is still over 30% more expensive than any city outside London.[29] James Dyson criticised the government for spending money on the scheme to attract international companies who drive up rents instead of helping start-up and hardware companies who he argues have greater potential than software and internet companies.[30]


Tech City (at its locus) is well served by a number of London Buses as well as London Underground, Northern line (Bank branch) and National Rail, Thameslink services at Old Street and London Overground, East London line services at Shoreditch High Street. With the increase in passenger numbers using the station, in 2014 Transport for London announced that it was to offer pop-up retail space at Old Street station as part of a drive to increase its revenue.[31]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Cameron reveals Silicon Valley vision for east London". BBC News. 4 November 2010. Retrieved 4 November 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "UK's Cameron To Reveal Plans For Tech City In East London". The Wall Street Journal. 4 November 2010. Archived from the original on November 7, 2010. Retrieved 4 November 2010. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Grice, Andrew (4 November 2010). "Silicon Valley – but in the East End, promises PM". London: The Independent. Retrieved 4 November 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Silicon Roundabout is alive and well=Tech City News". Retrieved 17 March 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "First came the artists, then came the hackers: The strange history of London's own Silicon Valley". Tech Republic. 16 January 2014. Retrieved 16 January 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. 6.0 6.1 "PM announces East London 'tech city'". Number 10. Retrieved 4 November 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. 7.00 7.01 7.02 7.03 7.04 7.05 7.06 7.07 7.08 7.09 7.10 7.11 "East End tech city speech". Number 10. Retrieved 4 November 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Mapping the Digital Economy: Tech City and the University" (PDF). Cities Institute, London Metropolitan Business School. Retrieved 24 November 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Clark, Nick (8 September 2011). "Eric van der Kleij: No 10 guru set to super charge UK's Tech City". The Independent. London. Retrieved 18 November 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "London's Silicon Roundabout". Wired Magazine. 29 January 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. http://news.searchofficespace.com/sos-news/tech-city-london%E2%80%99s-silicon-valley.html
  12. http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2012-02/06/silicon-roundabout
  13. here
  14. "Google Boosts London's Silicon Roundabout \date=28 September 2011". BBC News.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Tech City News, "London's Top Tech for Social Good," August 13th 2013.
  16. "An evaluation of the international FinTech sector" (PDF). EY. February 24, 2016. Retrieved February 25, 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "UK tech firms smash venture capital funding record". London & Partners. 6 January 2016. Retrieved 2 February 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. http://www.techcityuk.com/#!/home
  19. Garside, Juliette (10 August 2012). "Amazon moves engineering hub to east London". The Guardian.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. Aurora Fashions
  21. EE Mobile Network
  22. http://techcrunch.com/2014/10/16/kweekweek/
  23. "KPMG sets up Tech City garrison". Accountancy Age. 7 December 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. "Tech City gets law firm boost". City AM. 24 October 2011. Retrieved 15 October 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. Independent Shoreditch
  26. "Tech City UK: The Digital Capital of Europe". UK Trade & Investment. Retrieved 6 April 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. McGregor, Jay (13 March 2013). "Tech City startups voice criticisms over Technology Strategy Board". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 6 April 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  28. "Government's Tech City start-up strategy criticised". BBC News. 29 June 2012. Retrieved 2012-10-12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  29. "Manchester is magnet for tech pioneers". The FT. 10 October 2012. Retrieved 2012-10-12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  30. "James Dyson criticises government focus on software and Tech City". pcadvisor.co.uk. 26 September 2012. Retrieved 2012-10-12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  31. https://tfl.gov.uk/info-for/media/press-releases/2014/april/pop-up-shops-arrive-at-old-street-tube-station-to-reflect-the-vibrancy-of-tech-city

Further reading

External links

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