Tech City happy to annex rest of UK
The man behind the Government's plans to create a new Silicon Valley in East London is happy for the tech hub to spread across the UK.
Last year, Prime Minister David Cameron announced plans to turn the Olympic Village and parts of East London into a tech hub to rival Silicon Valley in California.
Eric Van Der Kleij, CEO of the Tech City Investment Organisation, said he wanted the benefits of the tech hub to be felt across the UK, and for tech firms to set up in other areas, too.
"You'll never see me draw a map with a border on it," noting the current focus remains on Shoreditch and the Olympic Park area in Stratford, although the education event he was speaking from was held in Tower Hamlets.
He'd much rather have it spill over into as many areas as possible. "I'm quite prepared to annex the whole of the UK if I can," he said, explaining he'd be happy if the whole of the UK developed into a tech powerhouse.
The Tech City project said over the summer that the number of start-ups in the Shoreditch and Old Street area had more than doubled since the Government announced the plans last year. Van Der Kleij noted the success didn't only create jobs in the digital and media industries, but all other supporting businesses, from "sandwich shops to lawyers".
Van Der Kleij didn't claim the full credit for the success for the Tech City project. "It's happening by itself, don't get me wrong, that was organic growth," he said. "We're just looking to encourage it."
He said partnerships with larger tech firms were starting to "come to fruition", but added that established companies worked more slowly than start-ups. Van Der Kleij said the Tech City team was giving tours of the Olympic Park area on a weekly basis to all the major tech firms - "everyone who you would imagine".
"Getting students interested in computing is key," he added, as the industry is "going to need a lot more progress and development... if we're going to keep growing".
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