When the British Prime Minister announced that the East of London would become an officially recognised technology cluster for the UK, there were two reactions in the tech community. One was a yawn – was this simply a branding exercise with no real meat on the bone? The other was a cautious welcome. With its cheaper offices and vibrant atmosphere, this part of London has become a natural organic tech cluster without any government help. A little offical acknowledgement seemed no bad thing, and possibly even handy.
And there was supposed to be some kind of meat. The government secured several commitments from companies including Google, Facebook, Qualcomm, Cisco, Intel and McKinsey & Co to invest in the long-term future of the area. The Olympic Park’s media centre would become office space for large tech companies (assuming they wanted it). British Telecom is suposed to be bringing forward the roll-out of superfast broadband in Shoreditch and Old Street. Imperial College London and University College London also made commitments to the area.
The question is, what next? How does all this get implemented and tracked. Well it’s now fallen to the Greater London Authority to actually shepherd this project – and they want your input, especially if you are based in Shoreditch/East London.
The Mayor’s Economic adviser Anthony Browne has today blogged that:
“We know that areas like Shoreditch have been incredibly successful, largely without any state investment, thriving predominantly on the creativity of the tech community. This begs the question what kind of support should government provide to support start ups in London and to make sure that we keep the talent that we have while encouraging new tech talent to locate in London? Several major IT companies have committed to supporting Tech City East, including among others Facebook and Google, but what will it really take to make sure that the digital cluster is sustainable in the long term with the right kind of eco system around it?
In City Hall we have been tasked with project managing the Tech City East project on behalf of Number 10 and we would really like to know the views of the tech community – what should we do and what shouldn’t we do? Not just in relation to the creation of a new physical space – but what things could we do to support tech start-ups and keep them here? We want as many people as possible to participate in this discussion so please leave comments and suggestions and encourage as many others you know to do likewise. ”
Thus, they are holding an event to discuss these issues and listen to the community. Browne and David Willetts, Minister for Science and Universities will be at TechHub on December 20th to talk talking about the “Tech City East” project. You can register here for tickets
TechCrunch Europe’s view is that overall this is “good thing.” The more the government thinks about technology and science policy the better and espcially if it is a) geared to a better environment for entrepreneurs and startups and b) that it’s thinking about a cluster that is naturally close to venture capital i.e London. And that’s what the VCs say as well.