When you measure the startup scene in London, nowhere in Europe matches it for size and nowhere in the US can compete with its rate of growth. London is simply one of the most attractive places in the world for young entrepreneurial talent, with government-backed schemes such as Tech City UK and bodies like Innovate UK creating an ecosystem which entices potential founders and investors alike.
We can envision London’s ever-changing startup landscape in various ways. By looking at where different industries are distributed and where there are incubators and co-working spaces, a picture starts to form. All of the areas listed below have core forums and spaces which encourage collaboration in a thriving startup ecosystem. Pick one and explore!
Silicon Roundabout or London Tech City
The area which springs to mind first is Silicon Roundabout. The name and identity was coined in a 2008 Tweet by Dopplr’s then Chief Technology Officer, Matt Bidulph, to describe the community of 15 tech startups based around Old Street Roundabout. The name has a pithy eye on Palo Alto’s gigantor equivalent, yet as the area is now home to around 2000 companies, it justifies the comparison. Otherwise known as London Tech City, the area broadly encompasses Old Street and Shoreditch, notable occupants include TransferWise, Last.fm and Tweetdeck.
Amid Brexit speculation, London’s status as the financial capital of the world has, surprisingly to some, remained relatively unscathed. Canary Wharf has stood for a long time alongside the City of London as London’s financial centre. Over the past few years, the financial reputation of London has allowed the capital and Canary Wharf to gain the reputation for being a world leading site for fintech startups. What makes London such an appropriate environment for Fintech is that government policy and regulation, financing heritage and technological innovation can be found in such close proximity to each other. Level39 in One Canada Square is where you will find all these companies concentrated, with companies like challenger bank Revolut and a whole host of industry-leading cyber security firms.
Here East – Olympic Village
Another East London hub of development and activity is the Olympic Village. Following London 2012 the government’s pledges to build on the legacy of the games has arguably stuttered in terms of getting people involved in sport, but in terms of business development, this can’t be further from the case. Here East was the former press and broadcast facilities for London 2012, but now it houses over 7,500 jobs and the innovation centre, Plexal. Plexal claims to be the largest innovation ecosystem in Europe to be found under one roof and is host to tech firms who work in artificial intelligence, virtual reality, augmented reality, internet of things, cyber security and data analytics. Industries which thrive in particular at Here East are sport, health and fashion.
Covent Garden, Soho and Leicester Square
As prices rise in the London’s East end tech hubs, Leicester Square is an unlikely location which has become very attractive to startups in recent years. Pay particular attention to a swathe of food and fashion startups which take great advantage of the proximity to the West End. Deliveroo began over by Goodge Street while Google’s current HQ in London is where Covent Garden meets Tottenham Court Road, yet that is due to change with their new campus office undergoing construction in King’s Cross.
Croydon Tech City
This South London version of the Silicon Roundabout is home to over 1000 creative and tech startups. What separates this Tech City from the others is that it is a volunteer-led movement which seeks to bring the wealth and employment to South London that has led to such growth in other areas of the capital. There is a different tone to many of the startups in Croydon, with focus on social enterprise and education a common theme. Excellent travel links in and out of London as well as cheap rent will allow Croydon’s entrepreneurs to grow in number and stature for years to come.
Between King’s Cross and Old Street is Clerkenwell, which has long been a home to creativity in London, and is now home to the likes of us here at Culture Trip! With places like Innovation Warehouse and Workspace popping up, Clerkenwell can be considered Shoreditch’s slightly more mature brother, as anyone who has spent time around there will note, it is less hectic yet no less impressive. Companies like Infectious Media led the way, while younger companies like the finance literacy company Finimize have put this EC1 postcode to best use.