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Tech City is Five: Q&A with Mayor’s key advisor Joe Mitten

‘Tech City’ was first hailed by David Cameron in a speech on 4 November 2010, five years ago this week, as an attempt “to rival Silicon Valley”, so Tech City News has caught up with Joe Mitten, the Mayor of London’s senior advisor on business and enterprise, to reflect on the success of London’s tech expansion.

What has changed most in tech in London in the past five years?

This is the best big city in the world and our global tech players are blazing a trail, making London the leading European centre for fast-growth tech companies.

In the UK we’ve produced at least 17 technology companies worth more than £590m – or $1bn – since 2000, and right here in London firms like Just Eat, ASOS, Zoopla, Shazam, Markit and Rightmove have taken root. Why? Because this city has all the ingredients that draw top talent.

One area we have seen real development in over the last five years is ‘big data’. London has become a leading hub for industries such as banking and advertising, and we are now hot on the heels of the likes of New York and San Francisco.

What are some of the biggest successes of the project?

We are seeing phenomenal investment coming into London. Over £860m of VC financing came into London in 2014, compared to about £485m the previous year. In the first quarter of 2015 alone, our tech companies secured more than £437m in venture capital financing, up 66 per cent on the previous year.

We are also now the world’s largest centre for fintech, with an estimated 44,000 people working in the sector – more than both Silicon Valley and New York. That’s an astounding performance and it’s why we are now seeing more and more tech companies from overseas choosing to set up in the Capital.

Firms like Amazon and Google are heading here to ride the wave, and the tractor beam-like pull of London will only bring further investment. We need to help Londoners take full advantage of the incredible opportunities in the tech sector, and that is why I recently helped launch Tech.London, which is a dedicated online hub to enable people to connect with each other and grow their business.

Does ‘Tech City’ still exist?

My view is that Tech City is very much alive and kicking and not only continues to attract international investment, but is a key part of our city’s increasingly diverse digital and tech offering. It’s no surprise, therefore, that its tentacles have now spread out from its traditional home in Shoreditch to all corners of the Capital.

You can now find clusters of world-class digital expertise springing up in Canary Wharf, Hammersmith, King’s Cross and the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to name just a few. That growth outside of the Tech City cluster makes London’s tech offering an even more attractive prospect, and let’s not forget this city is the driving force for the UK economy.

The impact of tech growth in London is being felt in other big cities across the UK.