Speech by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rt Hon George Osborne MP; Google Campus launch

Speech by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

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

The Rt Hon George Osborne

It’s a great pleasure to be here at the opening of the new Google Campus in Shoreditch, in the heart of Tech City.

This is the result of two years of collaboration between Google and the British Government, and we salute the leadership, creativity and energy of everyone at Google for making this happen.

Back in 2010, some members of my team travelled to Silicon Valley and met with Eric Schmidt, now executive chairman of Google, to tell him about the Tech City initiative that we were planning to launch.

And from that initial conversation has grown this incredible new facility - the largest purpose built space for start-ups in the whole of Europe.

The way that Google has engaged with the East London technology community, and designed this Campus to meet the needs of local entrepreneurs and tech companies, is absolutely exemplary.

This partnership model is absolutely in line with our approach to Tech City as a whole.

Philosophically, this Government doesn’t believe that you can click your fingers and create a technology cluster in a top down way.

Wherever possible, our approach is to go with the grain of what’s already happening, and help good things to expand and grow.

So when local entrepreneurs started saying to us…

“There’s something really special happening in East London, but we need Government to help shine a light on the cluster and bring new investment to the area…”

…we responded to that request.

And over the past 18 months, Tech City has gone from strength to strength.

The number of digital and technology companies in the area has increased from around 200 in 2010 to over 700 today. 

And as you’d expect, the world’s leading technology companies and investors are flocking to the area - including Intel, Cisco, Amazon, Airbnb, Qualcomm, General Assembly and Vodafone.

Of course, a sustainable tech cluster needs a research base as well as businesses, which is why we’re helping to create new research institutions in Tech City.

We’ve brought Imperial College London and University College London together for the first time in their history to establish a Smart Cities Institute in Shoreditch.

And last Autumn I announced £10 million of Government funding for an Open Data Institute in Shoreditch, headed by Tim Berners-Lee.

These new institutions will bring together academics with entrepreneurs and investors to create the next generation of British technologies - and help ensure that Tech City remains at the very cutting edge of innovation.

And of course - this Google Campus will also play a key role in driving this kind of collaboration.

If this building is designed to be a hub for entrepreneurs and innovators in Tech City, in turn I want the UK to become the hub for technology in Europe as a whole.

I want to be absolutely clear on this point.

When people ask: give me an example of the Government’s industrial strategy.

I say this: we want nothing less than to make the UK the technology centre of Europe.

This is the path we need to take to create new jobs, new growth and new prosperity in every corner of our country.

We’re building a more competitive economy, which is why last week’s Budget scrapped the temporary 50p income tax rate and cut the corporation tax rate to 22% by April 2014.

That corporation tax cut alone is forecast to boost business investment by £3.4 billion over the next four years.

We’re also introducing generous new tax breaks for animation, TV and video game production.

In a world in which “convergence” becomes increasingly important, a single tax break for creative content is going to support the growth of innovative technologies in East London and beyond.

And of course, we also need the right digital infrastructure so that people can watch and share the creative content being made in the UK.

So last week I also announced plans to roll out ultra-fast broadband and wifi in ten of the UK’s largest cities, as well as funding for broadband in smaller cities too.

These new policies build on the work we have done to boost technology and innovation in the UK since we came to office in May 2010.

To prove this point, I’m going to break a cardinal rule of oratory and read out a really rather long list.

It’s a list of the key policies that we’ve introduced to boost technology and innovation over the past 18 months.

It doesn’t include the things I’ve just mentioned from last week’s Budget.

And it’s not even close to being comprehensive.

But I do think it demonstrates the scale of our ambition as well as the breadth of our implementation.

Are you ready?

Ok, here goes:

We’ve introduced the world’s most generous tax breaks for angel investment.

Launched an Entrepreneur Visa.

Doubled Entrepreneur Relief from £5 million to £10 million.

More than doubled the proportion of government procurement contracts won by SMEs.

We’re implementing most ambitious government open data agenda in the world.

Implemented open standards and open source software in government IT.

Kicked off a radical process to digitise our public services.

And created an Innovation Launch Pad so that companies can pitch their innovative products direct to government.

We’ve introduced the patent box to incentivise IP creation in the UK.

Broken ground on the £500 million Francis Crick Institute, the world’s most advanced biomedical centre.

And we’re creating a £180 million Biomedical Catalyst Fund to support the next generation of British life science technologies.

We’re investing £200 million to roll out Technology and Innovation Centres across the UK.

Reforming the EMI scheme to make it more generous and easier for start-ups to use.

And finally - increased R&D tax credits for small businesses to 225%.

That’s quite a list.

But then again, we do have a quite monumental ambition.

To help rebalance our economy and make Britain the technology centre of Europe.

Tech City - and this new Google Campus - are at the heart of this ambition.

We will not rest until we have realised our goal.

To borrow a phrase from Google - let’s fill this town, and this country, with start-ups.

Thank you.

Published 29 March 2012