Tech City guide: London

5th September 2017

London is undoubtedly Europe’s tech capital.

It has topped the European Union’s digital cities index since it was launched, and dominates the European tech sector – as well as making waves on the global stage – thanks to a mix of ready access to funding, a wide pool of talented labour and a sympathetic regulatory regime.Even high labour costs and the astronomical cost of office space have not dented its reputation.Will that dominance be sustained post-Brexit? Nobody knows, but Google’s decision to press on with its 870,000 sq ft campus at King’s Cross, N1 – a revised plan was submitted mid-2017 – suggests no great exodus is likely.

THE SPACE

Old Street, EC1, is still the area to be for tech companies – but it now stretches as far east as Canary Wharf, north to Kings Cross, south to Waterloo and west to Midtown. 

Wood Wharf is a location to watch. 

Developer Canary Wharf Group has long cherished the idea of creating a tech hub on the east London site, which it sees as a natural extension of its Level 39 tech space (within the iconic One Canada Square, E14). The mixed-use development will contain 1.9m sq ft of office space and, if it succeeds, will become one of the capital’s largest tech campuses.

THE OCCUPIERS

Google, Microsoft and Apple head a long list of major tech players in a market that seems to be constantly on the move, with decisions driven more by labour and opportunity issues than by hard-and-fast rules about which parts of the city are best for tech.Yahoo’s parent company, Verizon, is looking for new West End headquarters of up to 80,000 sq ft, while Spotify and Snapchat are among a host of businesses upscaling in London, taking 20,000 sq ft apiece near Oxford Circus.

ONE TO WATCH

Keep your eye on Mimecast, the cyber security business – one of the few to benefit from increasing panic about online ransom attacks.The business is looking to expand from 60,000 sq ft to 80-100,000 sq ft and said to be focusing on a City of London shortlist.Scale-ups to watch include Deliveroo, fresh from another fundraising, and finance businesses Borro and Wonga.

WHO TO KNOW

Eileen Burbidge, Chair, Tech City UK and founder, Passion Capital

Gerard Grech, Chief executive, Tech City UK

Rajesh Agrawal, Deputy mayor of London for business, and founder of tech start-ups RationalFX and Xendpay

Martha Lane Fox, Director, Twitter, and UK legislator

Riccardo Zacconi, Chief executive, King Digital, creator of Candy Crush