Earlier today David Cameron announced a £50 million funding project for the ‘Silicon Roundabout’ area in London, which the Government prefers to brand ‘Tech City’. According to the Tech City Investment Organisation’s press release a new civic building will be built and promises to be Europe’s ‘largest indoor space dedicated to start-ups’.
Looking at the architectural mock-ups, the proposed Silicon Roundabout civic building might catch the eye, but it’s not exactly what the UK tech start-up scene is looking for right now.
The reason why the Silicon Roundabout area became popular in the first place was because it was centrally located and cheap to rent space. With a swanky building in the heart of it, you can see rents soaring through the (glass) roof.
A landmark building misses the point. The priorities for tech start ups are the basic building blocks: a cheap space with heating, lighting – and superfast broadband. Aside from that, what we need most is a highly skilled workforce, so this is where Government should be focusing its effort.
It raises another point about investing in one area of the country. The Government seems determined to create another Silicon Valley and investing in a few square miles around East London excludes other centres of excellence, whether it’s here in Nottingham or Cambridge, Brighton, Manchester or a hundred and one other technology hubs around the country. The focus instead should just be on creating the building blocks for success: access to high speed internet and developing IT skills.