Almost five years since David Cameron and Boris Johnson launched the ‘Tech City’ initiative, London’s tech scene has grown to become the most important tech hub in Europe.
London’s Silicon Roundabout is hot on the heels of Silicon Valley, with almost half of Europe’s billion dollar tech companies founded in the UK. These so called ‘unicorn’ companies, aptly named for their near mythical status, are born when start-up companies receive enough venture capital investment to be valued at a billion dollars.
The UK has produced 17 unicorns since 2000, with a total valuation of more than $40bn – FinTech’s crowdfunding website Funding Circle and online clothing retailer ASOS are just two of those. Other unicorns include JustEat, Skrill, Wonga, Zoopla, Farfetch, Transferwise, Shazam and Rightmove.
Manish Madhvani, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of GP Bullhound, comments: “The UK has raced ahead as the undisputed home of unicorns in Europe, with London producing the vast majority of Britain’s billion dollar tech companies. Growth is accelerating because we have created an environment capable of sustaining high levels of investment across a range of tech sectors.”
Cameron’s tech city initiative, launched in 2010, aimed to “bring together the creativity and energy of Shoreditch and the incredible possibilities of the Olympic Park to help make east London one of the world’s great technology centres”. He went further, saying that the idea was to “help to create the right framework, so it’s easier for new companies to start up, for venture capital firms to invest, for innovations to flourish, for businesses to grow.”
This project appears to have worked; London’s digital technology sector is growing faster than both the London and wider UK economy, and will continue to do so for the next decade according to research from London & Partners, the Mayor’s promotional company for London.
These achievements were celebrated at London’s Technology Week, which ran from the 15th – 21st June. More than 210 events took place, with workshops and talk hosted by Bloomberg, Goldman Sachs and Accenture, to name just a few.