Tech firms continue to flock to London's Silicon Roundabout

A host of technology firms have pledged to invest tens of millions of pounds and create more than 750 new jobs in London over the next few years.

New investments, announced by London & Partners and Tech City UK today, include Realex Payments, an Irish firm that offers new ways to pay online, opening new London offices and recruiting 40 people over the next two years; computer manufacturer Kano establishing an office in Tech City and planning to grow to 250 staff over the next three years; and India-based financial news and data analytics provider Heckyl opening an office in Canary Wharf.

In addition, New York-based Gansevoort Hotel Group will develop a new £60 million hotel in Shoreditch that will cater for East London’s entrepreneurial community, creating at least 150 jobs.

Major firms brought in in recent weeks include US cloud storage company Box and Chinese social game developer Rekoo, joining the raft of tech heavyweights – among them Facebook, Google, Twitter, Amazon, Cisco, Intel, Microsoft, FourSquare and Pinterest – already based in the capital.

The news follows Tech City’s third anniversary last week, when a report was published highlighting how the number of tech companies in London has grown 76 percent in three years.

Also on the day of the anniversary, prime minister David Cameron announced a number of new initiatives designed to further accelerate the growth of Tech City, including fast track visas for international tech stars and £15 million in start-up R&D funding.

In the last three years, new government policies and programmes have included the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS), Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS), R&D Tax Credits, Patent Box, Entrepreneur Visa, Opening Government Procurement, the Future Fifty, changes to IPO regulations and the creation of the High Growth Segment on the London Stock Exchange.

The government claims that these have all acted to catalyse higher rates of start-ups, as well as creating a landscape favourable to digitally enabled firms to scale and grow rapidly.

Meanwhile, these changes to the business and policy landscape have caused Tech City to expand from its initial hub in Shoreditch to other clusters around London, including Imperial West, Level39, Croydon Tech City, King’s Cross, Royal Albert Docks, Soho, Silvertown Quays, iCITY and the Olympic Park.

Joanna Shields, CEO of Tech City UK and Ambassador for Digital Industries, said: “It’s only natural that some of the world’s fastest growing digital businesses are making London their home. With its unrivalled package of policies and support programmes, the UK is already helping businesses at every stage of their lifecycle drive economic growth and create jobs across a range of sectors.

“Three years on, a real transformation has happened. Tech City has driven a new era of tech and digital growth which has seen clusters emerge and thrive all across London. From a city previously reliant on the financial services industry, we have established London as Europe’s digital capital and a true challenger to Silicon Valley and New York.”

Gordon Innes, CEO of the mayor's promotional body, London & Partners, said: “London boasts a talented workforce, an attractive work environment and world-beating universities, all of which are attracting the smartest minds in the globe to our city.”

Critics point out that Tech City is yet to produce a billion dollar company and many have put this down to the lack of late-stage venture capital funding, favourable US stock markets and the wrong entrepreneurial mindset.

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Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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