The UK government may be interested in creating a new Silicon Valley, but the web tech scene in East London has been growing for a few years.
Some people were taken by surprise by the coalition government's decision to invest in tech start-ups in East London. One point of criticism was the location, which might seem an arbitrary choice to outsiders. But for those working there it's less of a shock, as the area surrounding Old Street station, dubbed 'Silicon Roundabout', has seen many start-ups grow over the past few years.
It seems a natural location - close enough to central London to maintain connections with existing media and design industries, close to the city for financial connections, but far away enough from both to benefit from cheaper office space. The large number and variety of coffee shops, restaurants and bars also helps! There is also a vibrant arts and music scene in East London which makes it a natural choice for other creative industries. For the coalition it reduces the risk, as a scene has already developed organically without government intervention. With an injection of cash and involvement from large, established organisations it has great growth potential.
Several established web-based services are located around Old Street. Last.fm is one of the biggest success stories, who have built a large social network around music recommendations and was bought out by CBS for £140m in 2007. Other music-related sites are located here too, such as 7Digital, Songkick and Musicmetric. Other high-profile companies include Moo.com, Dopplr, AMEE, Skimlinks, Shutl, Somethin’ Else and Mobile Roadie. Also located here is TechHub, which offers work space and meeting rooms for entrepreneurs who sign up as members. This has become home to Shout'Em and My Neighbourhoods and counts Diary.com, PageDo and Siondo as members.
With the government helping to input money, knowledge and experience into the area they hope to replicate the dynamic, creative scene that’s associated with San Francisco’s Silicon Valley. The Californian region is home to a huge list of tech giants – Apple, HP, Intel, Cisco, Oracle, eBay, Yahoo and Adobe are all based there. That’s why the government has called upon two of the largest Silicon Valley companies, Google and Facebook, to help with this new East London project.
* BrightLemon is based just 2 minutes from Old Street station, which has been our location for three years.
BrightLemon has created our very own Tech City map: