East London Will Be “Tech City”

The East End of London will become a “Tech City” to rival Silicon Valley. That’s the hope of British Prime Minister David Cameron, anyway. Speaking to business leaders in the East End of London yesterday, Cameron says that the press and broadcast centres set up in Olympic Park to cover the 2012 London Olympics will then live on as “accelerator space” that will offer high tech facilities, expertise and executive office space, with companies such as Facebook, Google, Intel, McKinsey & Co and Vodafone apparently having already confirmed their intention to invest in the area.

“We’re not just going to back the big businesses of today, we’re going to back the big businesses of tomorrow,” Cameron says. “We are firmly on the side of the high growth, highly innovative companies of the future. Don’t doubt our ambition.” Cameron insists that that ambition extends to making the East End of London a “Tech City” to compete with the likes of Silicon Valley, and that many other measures are also set to be introduced to encourage entrepreneurs and developers of technology to set up office space in the United Kingdom. “Right now, Silicon Valley is the leading place in the world for high tech growth and innovation, but there’s no reason why it has to be so predominant. Our ambition is to bring together the creativity and energy of Shoreditch and the incredible possibilities of the Olympic Park to help make East London one of the world’s great technology centres. I want to show you how we can get there. For the past few weeks and months, we have had dozens of meetings with technology companies and venture capital investors from across the world. We said to them, “Here’s our vision for East London ‘Tech City’ – a hub that stretches from Shoreditch and Old Street to the Olympic Park. This is what local businesses are saying they need. What part can you play in making it happen?” I have to say, the response has been overwhelming.”

Among the ways Cameron intends to encourage technology development and the entrepreneurial spirit are the introduction of the Entrepreneur Visa, to help those with good ideas and financial backing to set up shop in the United Kingdom, as well as the establishment of a London office space presence for UK Trade & Investment. Additionally, there will be an independent review of the Intellectual Property framework undertaken every six months “to see if we can make them fit for the internet age”, noting that Google has stated “they could never have started their company in Britain… The service they provide depends on taking a snapshot of all the content on the internet at any one time and they feel our copyright system is not as friendly to this sort of innovation as it is in the United States”. Cameron is hoping that the publication of a blueprint for technology will send a clear signal to technology companies in the United Kingdom that government policy will be to help and support innovative forms of new business.

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