Tech City: A true rival to Silicon Valley? Or a doomed government initiative?

There must be something in the 'Frisco sand, because the dusty desert of Silicon Valley is a hotbed for growth.  The likes of Facebook, Twitter and Google have turned this parched patch into an oasis of innovation. Each year, countless companies of young and old flock there hoping to share in the success of their illustrious neighbours.

But now, after years peering across the Atlantic with jealousy, Britain has decided to do something about it. Their grand plan? Tech City.

This project is a government scheme with the goal of building Europe's own innovation hub in the shadow of the Olympic Stadium in East London.

With Google announcing it's purchased a ten-year lease on a seven-storey building in the heart of the area, it seems the government's plans are starting to fall into place.

Rich Martell, the CEO of Floxx Media Group, a location app platform is based in Old street, London. He believes that Google's investment in the area can only be a good thing for businesses.

"Having Google in the area means more small businesses may be able to get a foot in the door," says Martell. "Because if Google invest and give the new ideas the start-up capital they need, then it's handy for the start-ups and very savvy of Google."

And of course, if the plans did work, then Tech City would become a major asset to the UK economy. An asset that could see us buck the downward trend of the finance world at the moment.

"The digital space is a very exciting place to be right now and the possibilities within the technology sector are growing on a daily basis," says Richard Baker the managing director of Sequence, a digital planning consultancy. "The UK needs to step up and make a commitment towards investing in this area or we're running the risk of falling behind not only the rest of Europe, but the whole world.

"The key now is to increase our promotion of the sector and get more people - particularly within education - involved. So that we can make sure that 10 years down the line we have enough skilled people to keep the UK on the digital map."

A viral idea

James Leavesley, co-founder of social media experts CrowdControlHQ, believes the hype surrounding Tech City could result in copycat centres springing up all around the country.

"Very soon, these tech hubs will be popping up everywhere," says Leavesley. "London will always be the focal point, but the regional hubs will play their role. This is a great thing and hopefully it will start the UK's technology revolution."

But before Tech City can challenge the dominance of Silicon Valley, first they need to rise above a closer rival. Ireland. Twitter has already snubbed London's plans and set up shop across the water in Dublin.

The luck of the Irish

"The reason the likes of Twitter have opted for Dublin may be to do with the fact you only have to pay 12% corporation tax over there," explains Andrew Pearce, the CEO of Tech Track, the conference call providers. (As opposed to the 28% a company would have to pay in London.) And with London and the rest of Europe easily reachable with a short flight, the option to save money and still be in the centre of the business world, makes Dublin an attractive alternative.

However, the main problem for London's idea lies in the fact that Silicon Valley was spurned on by a movement of young pioneering businesses, whereas the government is creating Tech City.

Worst party ever?

Tech City may create some new businesses and make a small splash in the tech world, but that's it. It won't be a global revolution like the American original. Movements and cultural change need to organically explode and rise on a wave of creative ideas. A government initiative that forces these companies to share information and network, feels more like a kid's birthday party. The parents try to force their friends' children to hang out but in the end everyone ends up with cake on their face.

Have your say. Leave a comment


We use cookies to create the most secure and effective website possible for our customers. Full details can be found here