Government-driven investment programme could make Shoreditch the new Santa Clara
The government wants to transform parts of East London into the UK's version of Silicon Valley, with the announcement of a government-backed investment programme to encourage established and start-up tech companies to set up there.
The programme aims to establish a tech hub - known as The East London Tech City - in the area from Shoreditch and Old Street to the Olympic Park, and to foster an environment where tech companies are given support to boost their businesses.
Speaking at the unveiling of the plans in Shoreditch today, Prime Minister David Cameron said it was "depressing" how difficult it is for start-ups to raise investment in the UK, especially compared to other parts of the world such as Silicon Valley or Bangalore.
"I think it's clear that in the east of London we have the potential to create one of the world's most dynamic environments," Cameron added.
"If we have the confidence to really go for it, there's no reason why London shouldn't be one the challengers. We can make one of the world's great technology centres."
The East London Tech City is to receive investment from some of the biggest tech companies.
Google will create an Innovation Hub in the area which will provide space for creative and research professionals, along with developers and academics, to work to create applications and services.
Facebook will also build a permanent base for its Developer Garage programme which aims to bring together UK developers and entrepreneurs.
Intel will use East London as a base for a research lab which will specialise in performance computing and energy efficiency tech.
BT will also bring forward its...
...rollout of next generation broadband in the Shoreditch and Old Street areas to provide some of the fastest broadband speeds in Europe.
As part of the investment programme, the Olympic Park Legacy Company will also create an "accelerator" space in the Olympic Park, which will provide the office space for companies that are starting up in East London.
In addition, the programme is aiming to improve access to capital for tech companies. Silicon Valley Bank will offer finance to tech companies while Barclays will set up a centre to provide specialist banking services to companies in the areas.
Several UK universities will also contribute to the East London tech hub: Imperial College London's venture capital arm Imperial Innovations will advise the Olympic Park Legacy Company how to make the accelerator space attractive to spinout companies from academia and other areas.
University College London plans to build student accommodation and encourage student entrepreneurship in the area while Loughborough University will be active in developing an Institute of Sport for Health in the Olympic Park.
"It's a genuine innovation network. We hope that we'll encourage many more companies to come forwards – this is just the beginning," the Prime Minister said.
Cameron also today announced the availability of an entrepreneur visa for people who have secured significant investment for their business to set up their company in the UK.
The government will also look at how intellectual property laws could be altered to help tech start-ups. "We are reviewing IP laws to see if we can make them fit for the internet age," Cameron said.