East London Tech City
  • Silicon Roundabout[1]
Old Street Roundabout in 2010
East London Tech City is located in Greater London
East London Tech City
East London Tech City
Location within Greater London
OS grid referenceTQ325825
• Charing Cross2.5 mi (4.0 km) WSW
London borough
Ceremonial countyGreater London
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townLONDON
Postcode districtEC1, EC2
Dialling code020
UK Parliament
London Assembly
List of places
51°31′33″N 0°05′15″W / 51.5257°N 0.0875°W / 51.5257; -0.0875

East London Tech City (also known as Tech City and Silicon Roundabout) is a technology cluster of high-tech companies located in East London, United Kingdom.[2][3][4] Its main area lies broadly between St Luke's and Hackney Road,[2] with an accelerator space for spinout companies at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

A cluster of web businesses initially developed around the Old Street Roundabout in 2008. The area had historically been relatively poor compared to the City of London, and was known as the City Fringe.[5] The 2008–09 recession further suppressed rents through the closure of numerous firms, making it affordable to technology startups, while redundancies from financial services companies, such as investment banks, released a local pool of experienced talent interested in entrepreneurship.[1]

From 2010, as the cluster developed, both local and national government supported its growth, with the goal of creating a cluster comparable to Silicon Valley in the United States.[2][6] Cisco, Facebook, Google, Intel, McKinsey & Company and Microsoft are among the companies that have invested in the area.[7] City, University of London, London Metropolitan University, Imperial College London, Queen Mary University of London and University College London are all academic partners in projects based in the cluster.[8][9]


Technology companies located in the area in 2008 included Dopplr, Last.fm, Consolidated Independent, Trampoline Systems, AMEE, Skimbit (now Skimlinks), Songkick, Poke London, Kizoom, Redmonk, MOO, LShift, Ket Lai, Solstice and Schulze & Webb.[1] Other early companies to locate there were Tinker.it, flubit, TweetDeck, Berg, Fotango, weartical.com, Rummble, Squiz, Techlightenment, BrightLemon, Believe.in, Livemusic and WAYN. The name Silicon Roundabout was initially proposed as a tongue-in-cheek joke by Matt Biddulph.[1]

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.[7] A year later, Cameron announced that he was appointing entrepreneur Eric van der Kleij to lead the initiative.[10] In 2010, there were 85 startup companies in the area.[11] By 2011, approximately 200 firms were occupying the area, signifying a rapid increase in interest.[12] 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.[13] Wired maintains a topic on the area.[14] In 2015, Douglas McWilliams of the Centre for Economics and Business Research, which is based on Old Street, authored The Flat White Economy: How the Digital Economy Is Transforming London & Other Cities of the Future.

On 28 September 2011, it was announced that Google had acquired a seven-story 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.[15] 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.[16]

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.[17]

The earlier activities of the Tech City Investment Organisation and its funding by the then-Mayor of London Boris Johnson hit the headlines in 2019 concerning his connections to American entrepreneur Jennifer Arcuri.


Investment in London's technology sector was $2.28 billion in 2015, 69% 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.[18]


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:

Community organisations

A number of not-for-profit organisations have created a sense of community in the area including Independent Shoreditch,[26] a business alliance, and Digital Shoreditch, which organises monthly meet-ups plus an annual festival of the same name, as well as a meetup community named Silicon Roundabout[27] that has been organising events since 2011.[28]

East London Radio launched in 2013 as an online talk community radio station run entirely by volunteers, with studios in several East London boroughs.

Public sector organisations

Public sector organisations active in the cluster included:


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Many new developments have been built or are due to be built as the cluster expands. Cuckooz, an ASAP member, launched its latest design-led apartments in 2018. These apartments are targeted toward tech companies and are situated in a renovated art deco-style cinema dating back to 1870. A new arthouse cinema is also featured on the ground floor. The Atlas Building on Old Street already has full planning permission and is substantially pre-sold on the market. The Maker, located on Nile Street near City Road and designed by Avanti Architects, is currently under development. It will provide 175 apartments within a 28-story tower and a connected low-rise building.


The rapid growth of the cluster has met with some criticism. The Centre for London think tank said in 2012 that it felt 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.[31] Also that year Tech City was 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.[32][33] James Dyson criticised the coalition government in 2012 for spending money on the scheme to attract international companies who Dyson argued would drive up rents instead of helping start-up and hardware companies, who he felt had greater potential than software and internet companies.[34]


London Underground Northern line (City branch) and National Rail Northern City Line which is operated by Great Northern provide services at Old 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.[35]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d de Quetteville, Harry (18 March 2018). "The Silicon joke? From roundabout to revolution". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Archived from the original on 23 February 2019. Retrieved 19 March 2018.
  2. ^ a b c "Cameron reveals Silicon Valley vision for east London". BBC News. 4 November 2010. Retrieved 4 November 2010.
  3. ^ "UK's Cameron To Reveal Plans For Tech City In East London". The Wall Street Journal. 4 November 2010. Archived from the original on 7 November 2010. Retrieved 4 November 2010.
  4. ^ Grice, Andrew (4 November 2010). "Silicon Valley – but in the East End, promises PM". The Independent. London. Retrieved 4 November 2010.
  5. ^ "City Fringe Opportunity Area | London City Hall". www.london.gov.uk. Retrieved 22 February 2024.
  6. ^ "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.
  7. ^ a b "PM announces East London 'tech city'". Number 10. Retrieved 4 November 2010.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "East End tech city speech". Number 10. Archived from the original on 9 January 2013. Retrieved 4 November 2010.
  9. ^ "Mapping the Digital Economy: Tech City and the University" (PDF). Cities Institute, London Metropolitan Business School. Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 July 2012. Retrieved 24 November 2012.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ "London's Silicon Roundabout". Wired Magazine. 29 January 2010.
  12. ^ "Tech-City, London's Silicon Valley". Retrieved 6 November 2016.
  13. ^ WIRED. "London's Silicon Roundabout". Wired UK. Retrieved 6 November 2016.
  14. ^ "Silicon Roundabout news and features". www.wired.co.uk.
  15. ^ "Google Boosts London's Silicon Roundabout \date=28 September 2011". BBC News.
  16. ^ Tech City News, "London's Top Tech for Social Good Archived 18 August 2013 at the Wayback Machine," 13 August 2013.
  17. ^ "An evaluation of the international FinTech sector" (PDF). EY. 24 February 2016. Retrieved 25 February 2016.
  18. ^ "UK tech firms smash venture capital funding record". London & Partners. 6 January 2016. Retrieved 2 February 2016.
  19. ^ "Tech City UK". Retrieved 6 November 2016.
  20. ^ Garside, Juliette (10 August 2012). "Amazon moves engineering hub to east London". The Guardian.
  21. ^ Aurora Fashions Archived 13 May 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  22. ^ "EE". Retrieved 6 November 2016.
  23. ^ "The new Google Campus residency is all about tech for good". Evening Standard. 20 September 2018. Retrieved 11 January 2019.
  24. ^ "KPMG sets up Tech City garrison". Accountancy Age. 7 December 2012.
  25. ^ "Tech City gets law firm boost". City AM. 24 October 2011. Retrieved 15 October 2013.
  26. ^ Independent Shoreditch
  27. ^ Meetup.com - Silicon Roundabout
  28. ^ Best Meetups In London
  29. ^ "Tech City UK: The Digital Capital of Europe". UK Trade & Investment. Archived from the original on 20 May 2013. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
  30. ^ McGregor, Jay (13 March 2013). "Tech City startups voice criticisms over Technology Strategy Board". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
  31. ^ "Government's Tech City start-up strategy criticised". BBC News. 29 June 2012. Retrieved 12 October 2012.
  32. ^ "Manchester is magnet for tech pioneers". The FT. 10 October 2012. Retrieved 12 October 2012.
  33. ^ "Choosing a UK business bank account". Blog post. 19 July 2015. Retrieved 10 July 2017.
  34. ^ "James Dyson criticises government focus on software and Tech City". pcadvisor.co.uk. 26 September 2012. Retrieved 12 October 2012.
  35. ^ "Pop-up shops arrive at Old Street Tube station" (Press release). Retrieved 6 November 2016.

Further reading