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December 5, 2012

Silicon Roundabout gets £50m overhaul

Regeneration of junction at heart of London tech start-up scene leads new round of investment

By Steve Evans

New Silicon Roundabout
The new Silicon Roundabout? Credit: BBC

Prime minister David Cameron has announced a new wave of investment in East London’s tech start-up hub, including revamping the iconic Old Street roundabout.

The investment is part of the government’s Tech City initiative, which aims to support and promote the huge number of digital start-ups based in the Shoreditch area of London. The area is centred around the Old Street roundabout, resulting in the Silicon Roundabout nickname.

Part of this new investment is a £50m redevelopment of the roundabout, Cameron said. It will be transformed into Europe’s largest indoor civic centre and will be a space dedicated to start-ups and entrepreneurs.

The building will contain classrooms, co-working spaces and workshops. A 400-seat auditorium and 3D printing centre will also be included, as will a T4 broadband connection.

The centre is expected to support the creation of 15-20 new jobs for staff running the facility.

"As well as backing the businesses of today, we are creating an aspiration nation and also backing the innovative, high-growth businesses of the future," said Cameron in a statement.

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"That’s why we’re investing in creating the largest civic space in Europe – a place for start-up companies and the local community to come together and become the next generation of entrepreneurs," he added.

As well as this government investment a number of big technology companies have also made commitments to the area.

Microsoft will be establishing a Technology Development Centre in East London. The company said the centre aims to provide guidance and support for start-ups. Microsoft will also develop a new apprenticeship programme in Tech City. Similarly, services firm KPMG will open an office in Shoreditch, with a focus on supporting early stage technology firms.

Another firm moving to the area is a start-up called AlertMe, a company that enables people to manage their home energy usage online or via an app. The company will be moving its headquarters to the area.

Networking giant Cisco is teaming up with DC Thomson and UCL to create IDEALondon, another innovation centre that aims to nurture start-up talent.

Phil Smith, CEO of Cisco UK and Ireland, said: With the area fast becoming a hub for talented digital, technology and media businesses, creating an innovation centre in Tech City is a key element of Cisco’s British Innovation Gateway programme."

"It is great to be providing the thriving community with a facility which brings together the strength and expertise from an alliance of renowned leaders in these industries," he added.

Cloud CRM firm is also getting involved in the start-up fun. The company is joining forces with the Tech City Investment Organisation (TCIO) to host a series of events to showcase the best businesses in the area.

"Today’s announcement from the Government emphasises the UK’s huge potential to work its way out of austerity by building fresh, innovative and creative businesses," said Steve Garnett, EMEA Chairman.

"As an entrepreneurial company at its heart, at we believe it’s vitally important that technology SMEs are supported and nurtured. The Tech City Investment Organisation is doing a fantastic job and we’re delighted to be able to offer our support to an events programme to showcase the innovation and dynamism of Tech City start-ups," Garnett added.

Joanna Shields, incoming CEO of TCIO added: "Tech City has become a thriving hub of tech-based enterprise and creativity. We have a vibrant community here full of exciting emerging businesses that are growing alongside some of the world’s most respected tech companies."

"We have the opportunity to take this momentum and make Tech City the global leader in tech innovation and the location of choice for start-ups and growth businesses," she added.

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