High-tech institute to drive capital’s digital revolution

06 December 2012

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson and Prime Minister David Cameron today announced plans to build a flagship £50 million technical and creative institute to foster the next generation of leading digital entrepreneurs. In a unique Government-funded project to be delivered in conjunction with the Greater London Authority, the centre will cement London's reputation as the first choice for the world's most creative innovators.


The institute will place London at the forefront of technical creativity, and bring the latest innovations to people across the globe. Plans were launched today by the Mayor and Prime Minister at the Urban Age Conference, organised by LSE Cities at the London School of Economics and Deutsche Bank’s Alfred Herrhausen Society, and supported by the Mayor.


Funding totalling £50m was confirmed by the Chancellor as part of his Autumn Statement, enabling the Mayor to progress his vision for the Old Street area of Tech City in east London. When complete, the institute will discover and attract new talent and drive investment into the high tech digital sector that is flourishing in this part of the capital.


The Mayor is determined to expand the world renowned Tech City community around Silicon Roundabout in Old Street, placing ICT and creative industries at the heart of the capital’s growing high tech economy. With 24,000 IT companies based in London, the capital is already home to significantly more tech firms than any other European city - its nearest rival, Paris, has 15,500.


The institute will:


  • Provide a business resource for 200 start-ups per year, and host a mentoring network for aspiring entrepreneurs.
  • Host two major international conferences for global tech and creative industries each year.
  • Help 1,000 young people each year find skilled employment, and support initiatives which make recruitment easier such as providing support around Visa applications for overseas workers.
  • Engage up to 50,000 school children with enterprise programmes such as Coder Camp, TeenTech, and Computer Science for Fun.
  • Support the growth of Digital Shoreditch Festival to an audience of 200,000.
  • Lead 10 inward investment salons each year, and 10 overseas trade delegations with UKTI and the Mayor’s promotional agency London & Partners.


In addition, it will provide a home for third party ‘apps’ such Digital Shoreditch, a festival for tech entrepreneurs, and Y Combinator, which supports start-ups by bringing them into contact with venture capitalists and sponsors. London FabLab, an open fabrication workshop, will be based at the centre and will provide local schools with free access to technology such as 3D printers and laser cutters, along with the expertise to be able to use them.


Prime Minister David Cameron said: “Two years ago I set out my commitment to help Tech City become one of the world’s great technology centres. Today we are seeing it continue to grow and go from strength to strength - and that is down to the talented, creative entrepreneurs who have set up there.


“The UK is in a global race and I am determined that we as a Government continue doing everything we can to equip the UK to compete and thrive in that race.


“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.”


The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “The 2012 Games were a catalyst for enormous change in East London, with a new quarter of the capital now primed to become the world's most thriving centre for technology and innovation.


“The time is right to lay solid foundations in Tech City for London’s digital revolution. The institute will provide not only a vital resource to nurture upcoming technology and creative superstars from around the world, it will drive huge investment into the capital and help create thousands of jobs.


“I am absolutely convinced that the next Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, or Mark Zuckerberg, will hail not from Silicon Valley but from this small corner of London, and it’s my hope that this exciting new centre will be pivotal in their creation.”


A feasibility study into potential locations and costs of the institute is currently being carried out and is expected to be complete in the New Year. It is intended that the centre will be based near the Old Street roundabout, at the gateway to Tech City.

Notes to editors

1. The Tech City initiative was launched by Prime Minister David Cameron and Mayor of London Boris Johnson in November 2010 to support the growth of the technology cluster in East London. At the time of the launch, there were approximately 200 digital companies in East London. Today, there are over 1,200 digital companies in the area, including Google, Intel, Cisco, Amazon and Vodafone.


2. In September the Mayor announced that London will be awarded £25 million to provide major digital infrastructure improvements, superfast broadband and improve wireless access in the capital. The £25 million investment for London from Department for Culture, Media and Sport followed a successful bid by the Mayor for funding to increase connectivity across East London and improve superfast broadband around Tech City in Shoreditch, which will drive investment from start-up companies in the area, create jobs and boost the capital’s economy. The Mayor’s Super Connected City Plan aims to attract high-tech investment to London and enable the city to compete with international rivals. It includes plans for greater wireless access in the Royal Docks and will take ultrafast broadband access to around an extra 92,000 residential and 17,200 business premises.