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Tech City: London is best in EU for digital entrepreneurs

PUBLISHED: 13:00 27 October 2015 | UPDATED: 09:43 28 October 2015

"Tech City", Old Street Roundabout

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Tech City is the third largest technology hub in the world, and it’s right on our doorstep. Each week, we bring you news from the thriving area around Old Street roundabout. This week, reporter Sophie Inge talks to Gerard Grech, the chief executive of Tech City UK, about why London is EU’s top for tech

Gerard Grech, CEO of Tech City UKGerard Grech, CEO of Tech City UK

London has just been rated the best city in Europe for digital entrepreneurs.

The European Digital City Index measures the EU’s capital cities against a range of criteria, such as access to capital, business environment, technical and business skills and lifestyle.

According to Gerard Grech, chief executive of Tech City UK, there are many reasons why London tops the list both for start-ups and scale-ups.

“London has a highly skilled workforce in digital innovation, being home to both world class universities and European HQs of large digital firms, such as Google and Salesforce.com,” he points out. “Also, the compelling business and policy environment has seen record levels of venture capital investment in London’s tech sector.”

The UK’s language, location and culture have also helped attract entrepreneurs, he says. The net result is that an “increasingly dense network of serial entrepreneurs, investors and government support has created an environment where business can flourish”.

Another huge plus for the sector is its close proximity to “world-class financial services and corporate business customers”. The result is “great success stories, such as Funding Circle, GoCardless and RateSetter”.

Over the years, the industry has expanded beyond Tech City, opening up new realms of possibility, he says.

“The Tech City area is one of many beating hearts of the London tech scene, which nurtures and promotes diversity and excellence within the vast digital sector.

“We are seeing clusters of digital specialism emerging right across the city – from fintech in Canary Wharf to ad tech in Clerkenwell and e-commerce in Richmond.”

In the latest rankings, which are published by Nesta, London scores highest overall for access to capital, entrepreneurial

culture and knowledge spillovers. However, it scores low for lifestyle – a category that assesses a city’s standard and cost of living.

“This is no surprise to anyone,” says Stian Westlake, director of policy and research at Nesta. “It’s getting harder and harder to live in London – even on a relatively high salary. This is a long-term challenge for London’s tech dominance.”

If London wants a shot as the world’s top tech city, he warns, then this has to change.

“London must make sure it stays a place where people working in tech can afford and want to live,” he says.

“It also should not be impossible to hire from abroad because of immigration rules. At the same time, home-grown talent should not be neglected.”


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