Mayor of London Boris Johnson praised London’s startup culture and urged it to generate Silicon Valley style multi-billion pound businesses, at the launch of the first ever London Technology week – a series of more than 200 events taking place across the capital.
The festival celebrates the success of London as the European centre of business technology, and aims to rival the established attractions like the London Fashion Week.
The launch took place at the Central Working in Shoreditch, one of the dozens of collaborative working spaces that are cashing in on the technology boom.
“Although we’ve got the biggest tech sector in Europe here in London, we have an incredible range of people who come to London to live and work here, we haven’t yet produced the kind of knock-out, multi-billion pound businesses they have in the Silicon Valley,” said Johnson at the launch event. “We need to explore the reason why that might be so.”
The launch was also attended by former mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg and the Tech UK chairwoman Joanna Shields.
According to research by Oxford Economics published today, the tech sector is expected to create an additional £12 billion of economic activity and 46,000 new jobs in the capital over the next 10 years. A different study by South Mountain Economics suggests that in the south of England, the technology sector is growing faster than in New York City or San Francisco.
“As we look at London from California, we see the emergence of significant large companies such as Asos and BetFair, to pick just two. And then if you look in a slightly different field of science, Google’s recent acquisition of DeepMind points to this incredibly fertile triangle of scientific, engineering and mathematical talent that exists between Oxford, London and Cambridge.”
London Technology Week will feature hundreds of independently-run events in areas such as financial techology, digital art, retail, adverising and gaming. They are expected to be attended by more than 30,000 people, making it one of the largest festivals of this type ever seen in Europe.
Highlights include Internet World, a three-day exhibition at ExCel London and the StartUp Europe Roadshow at Google Campus, where young entrepreneurs will be able to exchange ideas and investigate funding opportunities.
The launch of London Technology Week was attended by Michael Bloomberg, who was in town for the Bloomberg Tech summit. As if referring to the rivalry between the UK and the US, he faced Jonson in a friendly competition, helping local children assemble a modular Kano computer based on a hugely successful British invention, the Raspberry Pi. However, the team representing the UK was unable to realise the home advantage, and the visitors won.
“Young people in the UK are starting to understand that you can build a global business and be a sensation like their counterparts in the United States and other parts of the world,” said Shields. “In fact a Nectar survey just a few months ago showed that out of the kids aged between 16 and 20, 80 percent said they wanted to start a business. That’s exactly what we need to have a successful tech sector in the UK.”
The event saw the UK launch of the Swedish electronic payments business Klarna, which revealed plans to invest more than £100 million in product development and roll-out.
It was also announced that King’s College London and the University of Warwick intend to establish a Centre for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP) in London, in partnership with New York University and Bloomberg Associates. It will be based at Canada Water and accommodate over 100 researchers and 500 students from 2018.
“Tech companies thrive on data, and the new Center for Urban Science and Progress in London will harness the power of data to make London an even better place, just as NYU-CUSP is doing in New York. Bloomberg Associates is looking forward working with Mayor Johnson and his team to build on London’s tech momentum and create more jobs in the city,” commented Bloomberg.
You can see a short trailer for the London Technology Week below:
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