Google lands in Tech City

Internet giant Google has opened a new base at London's Silicon Roundabout to aid the UK start-up community.

Chancellor George Osborne has opened Google’s first UK special hub for start-up businesses, located in East London’s Tech City.

The site, located on Bonhill Street near the Old Street roundabout, is set to house 100 young businesses and will be administered by Seedcamp and TechHub. The campus will offer desk space and mentoring for technology companies.

Tech City, which was the focus of a recent GrowthBusiness feature, is home to anywhere between 250 and 774 tech businesses, with figures from company financials website Duedil putting it substantially lower than the UK Trade and Investment’s Tech City Investment Organisation.

Osborne says the opening is the result of two years of collaboration between Google and the British government, and saluted the work of Google in making it happen.

‘Philosophically, this government doesn’t believe that you can click your fingers and create a technology cluster in a top down way.

‘Wherever possible, our approach is to go with the grain of what’s already happening, and help good things to expand and grow.’

Google’s move to Tech City comes soon after Osborne announced tax breaks for video games businesses in his Budget 2012 speech.

Osborne was quick to point out the variety of policies which the coalition government has introduced to boost technology and innovation including an entrepreneur visa, an increase in entrepreneur relief and the newly formed ‘Patent Box‘.

Steve Reid, CEO of Tech City-based sports-focused social media website Tribesports says he ‘definitely supports the move’.

‘It’s good to be identified by Google as a Euro-centre of tech, as it is a signal that this area is incubating startups that are delivering businesses that can compete on a global level. We are proud to be from London yet, at the same time, targeting a global audience.’

However, Reid adds that the move should not be over-stated as the building of successful start-ups is still hard work.

‘As a concept, we’d like the Tech City team to try and focus on those that are in the trenches actually doing the business of creating value (and jobs), and for there to be a little less focus on those that either commentate, provide services to or seek personal aggrandizement,’ he comments.

For Reid it should be about a focus on start-ups, not those that just talk start-ups.

David Fieldhouse, co-founder of Mobile Future Group, questions whether the government could have launched an initiative without the help of a US-based private company.

‘Hot-housing start-ups isn’t a new idea, incubators were around during the dotcom boom and they are an excellent idea. There are obvious benefits in terms of sharing knowledge, resources and client contracts. Google is however a commerical organisation so I would be interested to know how closely they monitor these start-up companies – there’s a obvious potential upside for them.’

Further reading on the stars of Tech City

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter was the Editor for from 2012 to 2014, before moving on to Caspian Media Ltd to be Editor of Real Business.

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Tech start-ups