My last post mused on Creative Economies and how the economic value of ideas will increasingly delineate one city against another or one country against another. Perhaps it may well pit Scotland against England after September’s big question? So in this light-hearted post for Good Friday I will turn my musings toward the city I work in, London.
In the last 5 years London has become Europe’s self-proclaimed digital hub (just don’t tell Berlin; or Stockholm or even Belfast for that matter). Looking at the raft of digital start-ups established in London however and you have to admire the energy and the economic pulling power they bring to the capital. The digital hub is mostly centred on Shoreditch and its famous “Silicon Roundabout” (we don’t have a valley; we have a roundabout famed in my mind for its drab shopping center and key cutters and cobblers that sat beneath it). The term Silicon Roundabout was coined back in 2008 and has now been eagerly adopted by local estate agents, local councillors and even the UK government eager for anything to tip the perception of the Capital away from the financial services industry that dominates, well, everything.
Silicon Roundabout has actually become the cornerstone of the government's new Tech City strategy. The idea is to nurture Silicon Roundabout and scale it. It won’t ever be able to compete with REAL Silicon Valley (so many good, FREE things for the world to use: Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) but its aim is to add much needed diversity to the capital's economic base and above all ideas, creativity and new ways of doing things. Five years ago, the area housed only a dozen digital start-ups. Now there are at least 300—and that is a conservative estimate. Last.fm started there as did SoundCloud and TweetDeck whose sale to Twitter for £25 million put that humble roundabout in Shoreditch on the map .
I enjoyed reading the “The Evening Standard” describe what was going on. Its recent three part edition talked about the types of entrepreneurs driving things in Shoreditch. You have the “Arisetechracy” (don’t groan…these are the famous names of the roundabout or as the paper calls them “The Knights of the Roundabout”) present from the start. Second we have the facilitators who make things happen—they’re the investors, the connectors and the nurturers necessary to make things happen. Then you have a third group called the “Miracle Growers” experiencing rapid growth. And Cognizant is guilty of using what’s on offer through its partner Webfire to build our app focused on Code Halos. And if you haven’t downloaded it then shame on you! Do so now—it’s free, slick and describes very powerfully what the Code Halos phenomenon and the book is all about. And if it doesn’t win a Webby award then I for one will wear a kilt on the day Scots decide their future on September 18th and walk around that famous roundabout…