Tech.London, a startup content aggregation portal supported by the Mayor of London and powered by New York’s Gust and IBM, has been officially unveiled at London Tech Week.
Sandy Carter, GM of ecosystems and social business evangelism at IBM, said this is an excellent “public private partnership… being built for the London tech community by the London tech community”.
IBM is offering up to £77,000 worth of free IBM cloud for participating companies.
But the initiative has received criticism for the lack of consultation with local tech leaders and the impact this could have on London-based competitors.
Jon Bradford, MD of TechStars in London, has expressed disappointment that the Mayor has decided to work with two US-based companies on initiatives that are already being delivered by the local tech community.
“I am frankly shocked that given the Mayor’s commitment to free market economics without external interferences from the public sector that the Mayor’s Office can justify such an arrangement.”
The Mayor’s Office has said ‘roundtable’ consultations were conducted ahead of the negotiations that lead to the three-year deal although several key players say they were not contacted.
Sources within the community say Tech City UK has not been involved actively in the project and that their preference is to work with UK-based businesses on such initiatives. The initiative has been backed by Tech London Advocates.
Justin Cina, Gust’s director of marketing, calls the deal a “privately-sponsored public service”. A tendering process was not required because no money is changing hands as part of the deal.
“The Mayor’s office has not committed any financial resources,” Cina explained. “Their support comes through helping raise awareness of the platform and providing access to their publicly available content.”
Jeff Lynn from Seedrs is more welcoming of the project. “Anything that helps draw more attention to the amazing startup scene we’re building in London is likely to be a good thing.
“At the same time, there are lots of private-sector initiatives – including publications like Tech City News and The Memo, advocacy groups like the Centre for Entrepreneurship and Coadec, platforms like AngelList and F6S, and others – already doing a great job, and this will have to add something special in order to make a marginal contribution to the space.”