Shoreditch is turning into the new Silicon Valley

London’s East End could be transformed into a technology cluster which could rival California’s Silicon Valley, according to David Cameron.

Plans for world-leaders Google, Facebook, Intel and McKinsey & Co to invest in the East End, will help new small firms which are based in the Old Street and Shoreditch areas to develop into multimillion-pound global businesses. The Prime Minister’s plan is to make Britain “the most attractive place in the world to start and invest in innovative technology companies”. Last week he announced his blueprint which is designed to achieve exactly this.

David Cameron will announce plans to pledge £200m for new technology and innovation centres, plans may go ahead for one to be built in the Olympic Park. Mr Cameron has announced plans to introduce US-style visas for foreign entrepreneurs to encourage them to start businesses in the UK. The Prime Minister has also pledged a review of copyright laws in the UK to make them “fit for the internet age” following Google’s claim that it could never have set up in Britain. During his speech in East London, Mr Cameron announced that, Silicon Valley is world-leading for hi-tech growth and innovation. But he adds that there’s no reason why it has to remain so.

“What attracted us initially was the cheap rents, but the area has allowed us to grow because there is an abundance of space. If we started out in Soho, it would have been prohibitively expensive,” one company’s founder said.

The local area has been dubbed “the Silicon Roundabout”, after the busy junction of Old Street and City Road, near Hoxton Square and Shoreditch High Street. A recent estimate suggests that about 100 new technology and design companies have set up in the locality in the past five years.

It seems that Shoreditch is not just filled with the kind of cool kids who recently created a riot when they could not get into a sale held at a local American Apparel store. It is also where many young people dream of having the next big idea that could make them millions. While they are at it, these “pretty nerdy hard-core technologists”, as one Shoreditch CEO describes them, also enjoy mingling with the capital’s trendsetters in the most popular haunts in town.

A business cluster is a geographic concentration of interconnected businesses, suppliers, and associated institutions in a particular field. Clusters are considered to increase the productivity with which companies can compete, nationally and globally. Are we witnessing the dawn of a technology cluster comparable to Silicon Valley? If so, it might be partly fuelled by being so close to another prominent cluster, London’s finance district, the Square Mile.

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3 thoughts on “Shoreditch is turning into the new Silicon Valley

  1. martinrich says:

    I think one of the most interesting things is how this area has evolved from being a creative cluster (Hoxton is very much associated with young British artists) to a technological one, and how closely the two are interlinked. That’s an important difference compared to the original Silicon Valley, and compared to the more established high-tech areas in this country, such as the M4 corridor to the west of London and ‘Silicon Glen’ in Scotland. It’s also interesting to see the pace of gentrification, because not that many decades ago Hoxton was an extremely poor area.

    • Great comment! I totally agree. I suppose, though it’s cheap for technology start ups, it’s getting too expensive for the artists who are moving further east and north as result of the gentrification. The question is, as you say, if the technology cluster is evolving somehow from the artistic one, or if it’s just somebody else taking over because it’s a hip and affordable area. I’m also not entirely sure if the culture of entrepreneurship is as fearless, commercial and hungry for growth as the one on the US West Coast.

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