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Tech City: Inside London's digital start-up hothouse

How entrepreneurs in a corner of East London are gearing up to compete with Silicon Valley...

...upswell in people wanting to give back," Morris said.

Screenshot from one of the apps made by schoolchildren on the Apps For Good course

A screenshot from one of the apps made by schoolchildren on the Apps For Good courseImage: Apps for Good

"Companies see other companies talking to us... we're not a huge team to have a salesperson," Adizah Tejani, Apps for Good's communications manager, added.

PC accelerator software company 360 Amigo specifically picked East London as its base due to the community of digital companies in the local area, moving into local co-working - and networking - space TechHub.

"We wanted to be [in the area] just because of the clustering and TechHub was the obvious place. It's mainly for touching down, meeting people, going to the parties and just for being part of the scene, I suppose," Rupert Cook, one of 360 Amigo's founders, told silicon.com.

"I was there for the [TechHub] first year party and met all sorts of interesting people. It was really useful to be able to discuss everything from hiring issues to their experience of the freemium business model. It is just useful to be able to have those sorts of conversations with lots of people at the same time - I must have spoken to 20 different companies in that evening, all of whom are going through the same sort of issues," he added.

For those that want to network, East London isn't short of meet-ups - such as the Silicon Drinkabout or the numerous events at TechHub - but for most businesses, the Tech City designation has brought a more straightforwardly useful sort of footfall.

Money for nothing?

Thanks to the government sticking a pin in a map, calling it Tech City and throwing some UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) promotional muscle behind it, potential customers and investors have woken up to the digital companies working in the area.

"It's nice having government backing for the area and the UKTI and others focusing on the area. In terms of our international profile, that's been really useful. There's definitely a greater profile for what the area's about," Somethin' Else's Bennun said.

ustwo's Erhardt has also seen more buzz, meetings and exposure post-Tech City. "It's been fantastic for us, increasing visibility for our studio," he said.

Charles Armstrong, CEO of social analytics company Trampoline Systems, reports a similar influx of interest.

"When the government talked about [Tech City] and labelled it, it led to a lot of people from the corporate world and state sector starting to pay attention and...

About

Jo Best has been covering IT for the best part of a decade for publications including silicon.com, Guardian Government Computing and ZDNet in both London and Sydney.

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