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The Shoreditch Tech Industry

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Did you know Shoreditch is the third-largest area in the world for technology company start-ups? Following closely behind San Francisco and New York City, this technology cluster comprises an area, known locally, as Tech City or Silicon Roundabout.

The UK Economy and Tech Industry Expansion

At the end of November 2010, there were 85 start-up companies in Shoreditch and nearby Old Street. According to Wired Magazine, by 2012, there were over 5,000. These creative digital startups in technology, and technology services industries soon gained media prominence. When Prime Minister David Cameron outlined government support for creating a new "Silicon Valley", the timing couldn't have been better for the Shoreditch tech industry.

What is the Shoreditch Tech Industry worth to the UK Economy?

In 2012, it was announced the area adjacent to Shoreditch's 'Silicon Roundabout' would be the location for a technology investment programme called ICity. The funding, worth £350 million, would build a digital hub from the used Olympic Games buildings. As part of the Olympic Games legacy development planning, the ICity planners would outfit office buildings, comprising hundreds of thousands of square feet, reinventing the spaces. The goal was to attract and house large data storage companies, media studios, a university research centre, and several educational technology academies. The ambitious plan to re-use Olympic infrastructure invovled a combined floor space of 17 football pitches.

Initial estimates for improving the area, lying within the Borough of Hackney, included the creation of new jobs; 6,500 initially, and a further 2,000 via the supply chain and localised consumer spending. However, many expressed it might be difficult to get businesses to move from the vibrant 'Silicon Roundabout' - the heart and hub of the Shoreditch tech industry.

What was the effect on the Shoreditch Tech Industry?

In the end, nobody had to move. According to London and Partners*, by the end of 2014, London Tech firms (of which over 1,500 global firms are now based in Shoreditch) invested over £1 billion in the UK economy, providing 12,000 new jobs in technology. This is in addition to 12,500 technology SMEs (small and medium enterprises) currently based in Shoreditch.**

Major Tech Companies Invested in Shoreditch

With the goal to develop the Olympic Games area into a technology hub similar to Silicon Valley, it is fair to say several major technology companies were attracted to the Shoreditch tech industry. As a location known for innovation and talent, the major players invested in East London Tech City (the new name for the ICity programme), would naturally look to placing digital talent teams in Shoreditch offices. Some of the companies and institutions involved, include:

Cisco - with the new Innovation Centre connected to London Olympic Park,
Amazon - and the brand new Digital Media Development Centre,
Facebook - the Developer Garage programme,
Google - notably incorporating the Google Campus innovation hub,
BT Sport - occupying over 140,000 square feet of the former Olympic Park,
Intel - occupying several research lab spaces conducting programmes for designing energy efficiency,
AMEE - the outfit known as Avoiding Mass Extinctions Engine, provide big data services to companies for assessing risk,
McKinsey and Company - a financial services company with an offshoot department mentoring and working with tech startups in the area.

Government schemes for the Shoreditch Tech Industry

The area is heavily supported by both local and national government schemes for academic partnerships. Key stakeholders include:
London Metropolitan University
City University London
Imperial College London - the Imperial Innovations technology-transfer company.
London Metropolitan University
Loughborough University and University College London - Olympic Park legacy innovation work.

The incredible investment in technology has paid off. When you think of what Shoreditch used to be until a few companies went digital in 2008-9 (taking advantage of low rents and the relative unpopularity of the area) to what is there now, the transformation is incredible. The buzz around Shoreditch and the 'Silicon Roundabout' attracts world-class talent.


Wired Magazine