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Why 'London's moment has arrived'

By Kathy Heslop

March 15, 2013 | 3 min read

Saul Klein of Index Ventures strongly believes this. He said it.

Saul started LOVEFILM and later joined Skype here, but previously he had given up on London for Boston, finding the UK Internet adoption very slow. It was! Our CEO David Brown and I took our then digital publishing company to New York in 2000 and whilst we still kept an operation open in London, I remember we described the UK Tech and Investment scene to the Financial Times as “sleepy.”

But how things have changed.

The UK digital economy is growing at 11 percent, higher than any other G20 nation and this is set to leap to 12.4 percent by 2016 (Boston Consulting Group).

As of January 2013, there are now 1,300 technology companies in East London’s Tech City. And Ve is one of them. Tech City’s CEO, Joanna Shields believes that “Tech City is home to some of the most innovative, ambitious companies in the UK” and that “London has become Europe’s digital capital.” Tech City initiatives to stimulate this growth include the Patent Box tax break, entrepreneur visas, tax breaks for early stage investors, and the organisation is currently working on a change to The London Stock Exchange’s listing requirements to help encourage London companies to go public.

HRH Prince Andrew is even more bullish. He visited Tech City yesterday and believes that businesses on the scale of Google and Amazon can emerge from this area. A digitally savvy gentleman, he also explained how the Royal Family are actually early adopters of new technologies because they get to have so much exposure to them. It is often they who introduce new technologies to the Buck House IT department, rather than it being the other way around. He went on to describe his relatives as a BYOD family – Bring Your Own Device!

It’s easy to be biased towards the positivity around Tech City, living and working in London as we do. But the reality is that there are so many clusters of innovation and cool in the metropolis, and it's this creative force field that attracts so many talented people from all over the globe. As a result, London is an action-packed and entrepreneurial melting pot, and when you travel, it’s very hard to find a duplicate of it anywhere else in the world.

But maybe we should leave the last enthusiastic word about the home of Tech City to it's CEO, who summed it up in this rather perfect way:

“It is all the great cities of the US in one… London is the seat of national government. Like New York, it has financial services and thriving art, fashion and media scenes. Like LA, it has creative industries. Like Chicago and New York, it has an advertising world. And technology is playing an increasingly meaningful role in all of these sectors.”

Hear, hear Joanna.


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