Osborne promises further £50m investment in Tech City
An additional £50m has been earmarked for investment in East London’s Tech City, Chancellor George Osborne confirmed in his Autumn Statement yesterday.
The news comes as Prime Minister David Cameron is set to publicise the progress that has been made in building what he will describe as “one of the world’s greatest technology clusters” on Thursday.
Following recent investments from global technology leaders such as KPMG, Microsoft, University College London and IBM, the Autumn Statement promised "The government will provide up to £50m of funding to support the construction costs of the Open Institute as part of the Old Street Roundabout regeneration project."
The junction – known colloquially as Silicone Roundabout – will become a civic centre for entrepreneurs, start-ups and freelancers to use as work and training space to encourage growth across the technological industries.
The PM has identified Tech City as a source of potential economic growth, and is expected to say that Britain is part of a “global race” for technological innovations, and that “as well as backing the businesses of today, we are creating an aspiration nation and also backing the innovative, high-growth businesses of the future”.
Ministers hope that that the scheme will be repaid with dividends as multi-national firms, conscious of the projected success of the area, look to capitalise on growth by channelling in further investment, creating a snowball effect.
The centre – set for completion by 2016 – will host exhibitions, training days and corporate events, and will incorporate a 400 seat auditorium, 3-D printing centre, work and office space. Training initiatives will teach business and programming skills to anywhere up to 10,000 students at any given time.
Microsoft, one of a number of technology companies looking to grow their presence in the area, plan to start construction on a technology development centre next spring, to offer development support to start-ups, students and entrepreneurs. Professional services group KPMG are set to follow suit.
“It’s in our interests that we support these companies as they grow into the tech giants of the future,” Tudor Aw, head of technology for KPMG Europe, told the Financial Times recently, whilst IBM confirmed they will offer positions on their entrepreneur programme to students within the area.
Both Busuu, a social network for learning language, and energy monitoring company Alert Me have outlined their intentions to move their headquarters to the area.
However, Joanna Shields, vice-president of Facebook who is set to take over as head of the Tech City Investment Organisation in January, has welcomed the government’s latest pledge as an affirmation of their commitment to the project.
Despite such positive forecasts, the UK unsurprisingly faces stiff competition from China and the US, with a recent survey from KPMG of technology executives indicating that only 1% of thought leaders believe the next technological innovation will come from the UK, putting it 11th in the world rankings.