Those familiar with London’s Old Street Roundabout are witness to the area’s vibrant transformation. Whilst the City’s traffic flows and the backdrop of the oversized billboard still presides over the roundabout, change is most definitely happening.
Prime Minister David Cameron has announced that our Government will invest £50 million in the area, a hotbed for UK technology and startups. Our government believes this area can spur economic growth and along the way support a good number of neighbouring enterprises.
Restaurants, pubs, coffee shops and the Hoxton Hotel are already benefiting from the hundreds of entrepreneurs that have flooded the area.
Where the Money Is
A moving force in the transition is The Tech City Investment Organisation (TCIO), which is funded by the UK Trade and Investment initiative. This organisation supports entities that export from the UK or who invest in the UK. TCIO strives to incentivise angel investors and is championing 50% tax relief for investments of startup investors providing £100,000 in seed money to Silicon Roundabout startups.
TCIO is committed to growing “Silicon London”. Ex-European Facebook head Joanna Shields has been chosen to lead the charge, and will team up with TCIO’s aggressive Deputy CEO Benjamin Southworth to keep the momentum moving forward at the Roundabout.
Shields described the organisation’s mission; “We're seeing a new generation of businesses emerge in London's tech and creative industries. A number of factors are contributing to this: One is the collision of ideas that happens in a cluster, from being surrounded by other entrepreneurs and innovators. This is hugely exciting.
“This collaboration and creativity is translating into jobs and economic growth. We're doing everything we can to foster this growth and act as world-class mentors for the next stage of entrepreneurs.”
Silicon Roundabout Startups
Ivan Mazour is the CEO and founder of Ometria, a promising e-commerce analytics software startup. He is also a successful angel investor. Mazour admires the promise that Silicon Roundabout offers.
Mazour explains; “After immersing myself in the many events that take place, it immediately becomes clear that the startup scene in London is really impressive in the way that the ecosystem has developed methods for inciting people to join, and training them so that they can participate.
“Having experienced things both as an investor and the founder of a startup, the technology and entrepreneurship courses in London have proven to be considerably more useful than a mathematics degree from Cambridge.”
Google has a strong presence at Silicon Roundabout, offering sponsored space to startups and entrepreneurs. The Google Campus consists of seven floors of mentoring programmes, flexible work space, high speed Internet. During the year, Google and Silicon Roundabout host many exciting tech related events.
One such event was the Digital London Startup Challenge sponsored by Wazoku, a London idea-management firm. The winner received numerous business support benefits as well as a booth at the annual Digital London event. The idea is to provide support and boost the recognition of the winning entry.
More Than 300 Startups
The effort to draw tech startups to East London’s Silicon Roundabout is entirely supported by government. Through the relatively new Innovation and Research Strategy for Growth, £75 million has been allocated for funding new small and medium high-tech firms.
There are more than 300 new startups working at Silicon Roundabout. These companies are all at different levels of development but represent outstanding growth potential for the national economy.
PageHub, a startup that has earned the prestigious Facebook Preferred Marketing Developer status, is one of the district’s many successful startups. PageHub provides software that helps brands manage and monitor their Facebook activity. The company CEO, James Devonport Wood, says; “The explosive growth of the tech scene in London in recent years has been phenomenal. Where only five years ago there were only a handful of meet-ups and hack events every month, there are now several every day.
“The next true test for Silicon Roundabout is whether it can produce a true global tech giant, avoiding the temptation of an early exit that are so common among European startups.”
Some UK startups that show promise are:
If Cameron spends the promised £50 million prudently, Silicon Roundabout will generate an economic revival on London’s East side and as new technologies evolve for Silicon Roundabout, we all win.