Government's £50m Tech City cash injection cautiously welcomed

News 7 Dec, 2012

David Cameron pledges more investment for East London tech hub, but one industry player wants money evenly spread across UK.

Government plans to plough £50 million into the regeneration of the Tech City area in East London have been cautiously welcomed by industry watchers.

Prime Minister David Cameron and London Mayor Boris Johnson announced the funding injection yesterday, which will be used to build a new indoor civic space for start-ups and entrepreneurs at the Old Street roundabout site in East London.

“Two years ago I set out my commitment to help tech city become one of the world’s great technology centres. Today we are seeing it continue to grow...and that is down to the talented, creative entrepreneurs who have set up there,” said Cameron.

“We’re investing in creating the largest civic space in Europe – a place for start-up companies and the local community to come together and become the next generation of entrepreneurs,” he added.

By limiting investments to Tech City, we may exclude talent and businesses outside of the M25.

The site, which will reportedly be the largest of its kind in Europe, will feature classrooms, workshops, and shared office space kitted out with the latest technology, as well as a 400 seat auditorium.

It will also have the capacity to train up to 50,000 students in coding and other computer skills through the roll out of several new education programmes.

Joanna Shields, chief executive of the Tech City Investment Organisation (TCIO), said the investment will help the firms based there compete on an international level.

“We have a vibrant community here full of exciting emerging businesses that are growing alongside some of the world’s most respected tech companies,” said Shields.

“We have the opportunity to take this momentum and make Tech City the global leader in tech innovation and the location of choice for start-ups and growth businesses.”

The Old Street area has been home to a number of tech firms for several years, and – in 2010 – the Government embarked on an initiative to stimulate the area’s growth by encouraging more companies to set up shop there.

Since then, the area has benefited from investment from industry big hitters, including Facebook, Amazon, Google and Cisco.

News of the regeneration project has been welcomed by Salesforce.com, who are already big supporters of the Tech City initiative.

Steve Garnett, EMEA Chairman at Salesforce.com, said the investment could benefit the wider economy.

“[The] announcement emphasises the UK’s huge potential to work its way out of austerity by building fresh, innovative and creative businesses,” said Garnett.

“At Salesforce.com we believe it’s vitally important that technology SMEs are supported and nurtured,” he added.

However, Andrew Yates, chief executive of business intelligence software vendor Artesian, said he’d like to see the Government up its tech investments in other parts of the country too.

“The £50m should be evenly distributed across the UK rather than centred on London’s Tech City,” he said.

“The talent pool in the UK for technology is growing, but not all talent resides in London and, by limiting the investment to Tech City, we fear this may exclude talent and businesses outside of the M25,” he said.