Press release

PM announces East London Tech City

Prime Minister David Cameron has set out the Government's ambition for London's East End to become a world-leading technology city to rival Silicon Valley.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The Prime Minister set out the Government’s ambition for London’s East End to be transformed into a world-leading technology city to rival Silicon Valley. This ambitious agenda is part of the Government’s programme to create new jobs, diversify the economy and support sustainable economic growth.

Vodafone, Google, Facebook, Intel and McKinsey & Co are just some of the leading companies that have responded to the Prime Minister’s vision for technology in East London. Over a dozen leading companies and universities are today announcing new commitments to invest in the long-term future of the area, creating the right environment for the thriving start-ups already flourishing in London’s Old Street and Shoreditch areas to grow into the next generation of global businesses.

The Prime Minister also announced today that the Olympic Park press and broadcast centres will live on beyond the Games as an ‘accelerator space’, offering flexible office space, facilities and expertise to provide a world beating environment that will provide a life path for companies growing out of East London and beyond.

In a speech to an audience of high tech businesses and entrepreneurs the Prime Minister also announced new measures to improve the climate for technology and entrepreneurialism in the UK. These include:

  • A new Entrepreneur Visa - people who have a very good business idea, and have secured serious investment from a leading investor, will be welcome to come to the UK and set up their business. This will help attract the brightest and best entrepreneurs from across the world, creating new jobs and businesses in the UK.
  • An independent review of the Intellectual Property framework, to ensure that they are fit for purpose in the internet age and that they encourage the sort of creative innovation that exists in America.
  • To support technology companies in East London and beyond, UK Trade & Investment will establish a presence in East London, and will boost to at least £15 million the support UKTI gives to technology companies to set up in the UK and expand into new markets, including a global task force for new technology; and,
  • An ambition to become the most attractive country in the developed world for early stage and venture capital investment.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

Ten days ago, when I set out the coalition’s strategy for growth at the CBI conference, I announced an important change in government policy towards business and enterprise.

We’re not just going to back the big businesses of today, we’re going to back the big businesses of tomorrow. We are firmly on the side of the high-growth, highly innovative companies of the future. Don’t doubt our ambition.

Right now, Silicon Valley is the leading place in the world for high-tech growth and innovation. But there’s no reason why it has to be so predominant. Our ambition is to bring together the creativity and energy of Shoreditch and the incredible possibilities of the Olympic Park to help make East London one of the world’s great technology centres. I want to show you how we can get there.

For the past few weeks and months, we have had dozens of meetings with technology companies and venture capital investors from across the world. We said to them: “Here’s our vision for East London tech city - a hub that stretches from Shoreditch and Old Street to the Olympic Park. This is what local businesses are saying they need. What part can you play in making it happen?” I have to say: the response has been overwhelming.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson said:

In the nineteenth century the wharfs and warehouses of east London were the epicentre for world trade. Virtually every commodity was traded in and transported from our city to markets far and wide.

Today London is at the forefront of the high tech revolution. But we can and must do more to cement our position as a global magnet for the new talent that meets the needs and harness the opportunities of the 21 century.  In the outstanding space and infrastructure offered by the London 2012 Media Centre, the Olympic and Paralympic Games will bequeath to London a vibrant new business quarter in the east of our city.  We must do everything we can to support its development as one of the UK’s leading hubs for businesses exploiting the digital and creative markets.

We are already doing a lot to support this new economy, from making reams of city data freely available to London’s technical talent for transformation into apps, websites or mobile products, to piloting public wi-fi on London Underground.

The intellectual property review is expected to take six months and to look at:

  • The barriers to new internet-based business models, including the costs of obtaining permissions from existing rights-holders;
  • The cost and complexity of enforcing intellectual property rights within the UK and internationally;
  •  The interaction between IP and Competition frameworks;
  •  How SMEs can access services to help them to help them protect and exploit their IP.

The blueprint on technology aims to send a clear message to UK based innovative and technology companies about the direction of government policy in supporting and promoting innovative businesses.  It will highlight the importance of innovation across the government’s agenda and stress the need for a consistent government approach to incentivising innovation. It covers:

  • Building a framework that maximises the UK’s innovation potential
  • Britain is Open for Business
  • Supporting Your Business to Grow
  • Opening up Government to Innovation.

The Prime Minister listed the global companies and universities that have responded to his bold ambition to make East London one of the world’s leading technology centres

New investment in East London

The Olympic Park Legacy Company has agreed to create an “accelerator” space in the Olympic Park, providing office space for companies that grow out of East London and beyond.

Intel will establish a new research lab in East London, focusing on performance computing and new energy efficiency technologies.

Google will create an Innovation Hub in East London, a creative space for their researchers to come together with developers and academics to create the next generation of applications and services. 

Facebook will create a permanent home in East London for their successful Developer Garage programme, which brings together and inspires the most talented developers and entrepreneurs here in the UK.
Cisco will explore with the OPLC opportunities to establish an Innovation Centre in the Olympic Park, focusing on technical excellence and the development of their smart and connected community solutions.

British Telecom will bring forward the roll-out of superfast broadband in Shoreditch and Old Street, providing some of the fastest internet speeds in the whole of Europe.

Improving access to finance for UK technology

Barclays will create a new facility in East London to provide specialist banking services to high growth technology companies in the area.

Vodafone will open an offshoot of its Vodafone Ventures global investment fund in London, to invest in the next wave of start-up businesses that harness the power of wireless communications. Vodafone will also expand its ‘Mobile Clicks initiative’, forming a high tech version of Dragon’s Den to nurture and coach the next generation of online entrepreneurs.

Silicon Valley Bank, which is at the heart of the West Coast technology ecosystem, is today announcing that it will become a full service Bank in the UK in 2011, and will continue to provide finance to technology and life science companies not just in East London, but right across the UK.
##Expert advice and support

Qualcomm, one of the world’s leading wireless technology companies, will provide expert advice to East London start-ups on intellectual property matters, helping them to protect and commercialise their technologies.

McKinsey and Company, one of the world’s leading strategic consultancy firms, has agreed to share its expertise in establishing this technology cluster and help start-up companies in the area grow into global giants.

Imperial Innovations, the venture capital arm of Imperial College London, will advise the Olympic Park Legacy Company to ensure that the accelerator space is attractive to spinout companies from academia and beyond.

University College London will work with the Olympic Park Legacy Company to build a student presence in the Olympic Park, with a particular focus on student entrepreneurship and accommodation.

Loughborough University will work with the Olympic Park Legacy Company to develop plans for an Institute of Sport for Health in the Olympic Park, which will bring together business and sports science, and help to create new spinout companies in this field.

Company quotes:

Andrew Altman, Chief Executive of the Olympic Park Legacy Company said:

The Government’s vision for east London and the interest it has already generated from companies and research institutions provide a massive boost to our goal to build a vibrant, creative district in the future Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. It shows a great sign of support for the process we launched last month to invite proposals on the Broadcast and Press Centres.

We want to develop a dynamic new piece of city that will act as a magnet for innovative businesses and sustainable jobs. With its excellent transport links, unique mix of housing, world class sporting venues and attractions, parklands and high bandwidth network the Park will provide the perfect environment for the companies of the 21st century to flourish and grow.

Phil Cox, Head of Silicon Valley Bank in the UK said:

The decision to expand in the UK was easy. All the ingredients are here in the UK, top quality universities with world renowned academic research, seed, angel, venture capital and private equity investors, emerging and genuine Government support and commitment to science based business, all of the capital markets access you will ever need here in London, the financial capital of the world, and most of all - entrepreneurs - men and women with a vision, a new technology and a game plan to build a great business.

Joanna Shields, Vice President, Facebook  Europe, Middle East & Africa said:

Facebook applauds the UK government’s commitment to support and grow the technology community by creating the Techhub, a new centre which will give start ups and innovators in the UK a home to realise their ambitions as part of the London 2012 Olympics legacy.  Facebook’s foundations are rooted in innovation and collaboration with an ecosystem of developers. In London alone we have a network of more than 2000 developers who will greatly benefit from having access to the Techhub.  We are committed to hosting our Developer Garage programme in the Techhub  and we will promote the centre as a place of innovation and creative ideas for the UK’s developers, marketers and entrepreneurs. 

With over 26 million users in the UK, Facebook provides a very effective platform for the sharing of public service information with the widest possible range of citizens and promoting a more open, vibrant and transparent society. We welcome the government’s commitment to supporting innovation in this area and look forward to working closely with them on this project.

Steve Cooper, MD Barclays Business said:

Barclays is proud to be able to directly support the Government’s ambitious plans to build a cluster of internet and technology companies in East London.  We recognise just how important the SME sector is as a driver of economic growth, particularly as it recovers, and stand ready to provide what support we can to ensure SMEs can play their role in that recovery. We believe that, with the strong support of wider industry and Government, technology companies can play an even more vital part in that story.

Phil Smith CEO of Cisco UKI commented:

Cisco is already collaborating on Smart+Connected Communities in the USA, Canada, South Korea, India, Portugal, Russia and Vietnam, and the prospect of creating such a substantial centre of excellence in London is a hugely exciting milestone, not just for the UK, but the world.

Notes to editors

  1. Creative and technology companies are already clustered around the Shoreditch and Old Street areas of London. The Olympic Park is ideally positioned to build a distinct district where these young, fast growing businesses can develop.  An accelerator space is being created, providing good value flexible workspace, access to business support and links with Venture Capital and innovation funds. It will provide the next step for companies growing out of Shoreditch and Old Street to locate alongside established businesses and researchers and take advantage of the best urban Park in Europe.
Published 4 November 2010