In November last year, Prime Minister David Cameron took the wraps off a new initiative: Tech City.
The idea of Tech City was based on the existing Silicon Roundabout - an area of East London where digital and media startups had made their home. The Tech City plan was to build on the cluster and, according to the government, “for London�s East End to be transformed into a world-leading technology city to rival Silicon Valley.”
“If we have the confidence to really go for it, there’s no reason why London shouldn’t be one of the challengers. We can make one of the world’s great technology centres,” Cameron said at the launch.
The government announced it had roped in a series of tech’s big names - BT, Facebook, Intel and Google among them - along with a series of professional services companies and public sector bodies to contribute to the project, with plans ranging from providing assistance to startups housed in the area to establishing offices in East London.
While few of the pledges had explicit timescales set, all were trumpeted by the government as building blocks in its dream to give London a tech scene to rival that of Silicon Valley, and as signs that the initiative had backing and should be taken seriously.
With Tech City now one year old, how much progress has been made towards achieving the pledges that were made at its inauguration?
silicon.com checked up on the commitments set out in the goverment’s press release issued to mark the occasion, to see how much progress has been made so far.
What was pledged: “Barclays will create a new facility in East London to provide specialist banking services to high-growth technology companies in the area.”
What’s been achieved: Rather than a dedicated facility, Barclays has gone for what it describes as a “specialist service team with experience in media and tech businesses in the [Tech City] area”.
“We have offices in Fleet Street and Stratford where the Barclays business managers are nominally based and customer meetings do take place here, but in practice they often meet customers at their own offices, or in the TechHub or one of the other incubator centres in the area,” a Barclays spokesman said.
The Barclays team also show up at presentation days and appointment days that the bank says it sets up at various hubs within Tech City.
What was pledged: “British Telecom will bring forward the rollout of superfast broadband in Shoreditch and Old Street.”
What’s been achieved: According to BT, superfast broadband has now been deployed in part of the area from the Clerkenwell exchange and is currently being deployed from the Shoreditch exchange. The rollout should be finished in December, the telco said. “Prior to the launch of Tech City…