|East London Tech City|
Old Street Roundabout
|OS grid reference|
|• Charing Cross||2.5 mi (4.0 km) WSW|
|Ceremonial county||Greater London|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Postcode district||EC1, EC2|
East London Tech City (also known as Tech City and Silicon Roundabout) is the term for a technology cluster of high-tech companies located in East London, England. Its main area lies broadly between St Luke's and Hackney Road, 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 run down compared to the City of London, and was known as the 'City Fringe'. The 2008–09 recession further suppressed rents through the closure of numerous firms, making it affordable to technology start-ups, while redundancies from financial services companies, such as investment banks, released a local pool of experienced talent interested in entrepreneurship.
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. Cisco, Facebook, Google, Intel, McKinsey & Company and Microsoft are among the companies that have invested in the area. 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.
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. 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.
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. A year later, Cameron announced that he was appointing entrepreneur Eric van der Kleij to lead the initiative. In 2010 there were 85 startup companies in the area. By 2011, approximately 200 firms were occupying the area, signifying a rapid increase in interest. 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. Wired maintains a topic on the area. In 2015 Douglas McWilliams of the Centre for Economic 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-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. 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.
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.
The earlier activities of the Tech City Investment Organisation and its funding by 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 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.
Notable technology companies active in the cluster include:
Educational institutions active in the cluster include:
Financial and professional services providers active in the cluster include:
A number of not-for-profit organisations have created a sense of community in the area including Independent Shoreditch, a business alliance, and Digital Shoreditch, which organises monthly meet-ups plus an annual festival of the same name.
East London Radio launched in 2013 as an on-line talk community radio station run entirely by volunteers, with studios in several East London boroughs.
Public sector organisations active in the cluster included:
As the cluster expands, a number of developments have been/or are due to be built, such as by ASAP Member Cuckooz, who launched its latest design-led apartments in 2018, targeted towards the tech companies and offer apartments in a renovated art deco style cinema dating back to 1870, and features a new arthouse cinema on the ground floor. While, the Atlas Building on Old Street has full planning permission and is substantially already pre-sold on the market. and The Maker, which is situated on Nile Street close to City Road on the very edge of Tech City and designed by Avanti Architects, which is underdevelopment and will provide 175 contemporary, apartments within an elegant 28-storey tower and 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. 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. 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.
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.