Cameron helps Tech City celebrate first anniversary

The East London series of entrepreneurial projects will continue to have government support, according to prime minister David Cameron
Written by Tom Espiner, Contributor

Prime minister David Cameron has pledged support for Tech City as the East London project celebrates its first anniversary.

Cameron said that the government was "looking at new ways [to] protect intellectual property" as part of efforts to promote entrepreneurs. Cameron spoke at an event at Tech City on Thursday that was closed to the press.

"One year ago we made a major commitment to helping the tech cluster in East London grow," Cameron said in a statement.

"The successful growth we see today is thanks to the talented, creative entrepreneurs who have decided to set up there." Cameron launched a Tech City Map social network analysis tool focused on businesses in the area, according to the statement.

The event that Cameron attended was part of a series of launches and announcements intended to promote Tech City. Communications minister Ed Vaizey attended a launch event for Entrepreneur First, a non-profit organisation focused on identifying and nurturing entrepreneurial talent in graduates.

"The Entrepreneur First initiative is very much part of what we want to see happening in Tech City," Vaizey told reporters at the event.

"When Downing Street first put its shoulder to the wheel to support Tech City, some people might have been a bit sceptical – it had a, in a weird way, despite being part of the 21st Century, it had a slightly 70's feel of picking winners, and picking out a particular area to support. But I think the process has been very much vindicated."

Vaizey said that businesses wanting to invest in the UK see Tech City "as a beacon".

The Entrepreneur First programme at present is only open to university graduates. Vaizey told ZDNet UK that despite university applications going down following government cuts to university subsidies, and attendant rises in tuition fees, this would not affect bright entrepreneurs from poor backgrounds.

"Obviously, because people don't pay tuition fees up front, anyone can afford to go to university," said Vaizey. "Why university applications may have gone down is because of the enormous rise in apprenticeships."

Matt Clifford, the chief executive of Entrepreneur First, told ZDNet UK that the organisation was in the process of accepting applications from would-be entrepreneurs for 30 places on the scheme, and had already received a large number. Applications close on December 31.

"It's a hugely broad range of ideas," said Clifford. "The whole idea is to identify bright, motivated people who can come up with ideas."

Ideas on the table range from technology for use in higher education and banking, through to less technical ideas that rely on technology for marketing, said Clifford.

Entrepreneur First does not receive any government funding, Vaizey told ZDNet UK.

Recent announcements coinciding with Tech City's first anniversary include Cisco's Future Cities Centre and the National Virtual Incubator. Intel has said it will create a high performance computing cluster that can be used by Tech City companies.

Since its launch last year, a number of projects have changed specification or been quietly dropped. For example, Tech City announced that Facebook would create a "permanent home" for the independent Facebook Developer Garage programme, which has yet to materialise.

Editorial standards