Editor’s Note: In the first of his regular columns for Tech City News, James Caan reflects on the East London of his youth, and looks forward towards the capital’s future as a global technology hub.
After more than 30 years in business I find myself writing about the place where it all began for me as an ambitious and hungry young entrepreneur, looking to make his fortune.
I started my first business in East London
East London to me was not only the place I was raised; it was where my journey in the world of business began. When I was growing up the area was at the very heart of the UK’s textile and clothing industry.
I couldn’t wait to get started working for myself in business.
I still have great memories of working in the garment industry selling leather jackets and coats to the trendy youngsters who helped put London at the centre of the fashion world.
The place was always buzzing with an incredible energy and excitement and was home to hundreds of independent traders, creative businesses and entrepreneurs looking to create their own success.
The spirit of East London is still alive and kicking today but it has adapted to the demands of the economy and become the central hub for Tech start-ups and online communities.
I’m passionate about the government’s involvement
The Tech City Investment Group is just one of a number of Government backed schemes I am passionate about.
In many ways it is a perfect example of why this great city of ours is one of the best places in the world to live and work.
There is something incredibly exciting happening in East London which will make it one of the most important economic and technological centres in the world – second only to Silicon Valley.
We are living through our own version of the industrial revolution with technology and communication becoming even more vital to doing business in the future.
That is why schemes such as Tech City are so important if this country wants to truly compete on the international stage.
Over the last 5 years there have been over 1300 businesses launched in the Silicon roundabout area of London with more popping up all over the rest of the UK on a daily basis.
It’s these businesses that excite me; amongst them could be the next Google or Amazon.
The next generation of technology companies
Earlier last year I was appointed as Chairman of Start Up Loans, a Government funded initiative to help 18-30 year olds launch their own business.
The three most common barriers for start-ups are money, knowledge and access to good resource
Start Up Loans aims to help combat those barriers by providing low-interest flexible loans, free mentor support and quality resources at generous discounts to people interested in starting their own business in England. This fund is aiming to help launch more than 25,000 businesses and create thousands of jobs.
Small and medium sized enterprises have always been the heartbeat of the UK’s economy.
They are the businesses injecting true innovation and enterprise into the economy and we should be doing everything we can to help foster and encourage the next generation of business leaders.
When I look at the area, where we are seeing development of tech businesses, so much has changed but the things that made it so exciting and vibrant all those years ago are still essentially the same.
That is why I feel so thrilled and privileged to be involved in this project at a time when the East End of London has renewed and reinvigorated itself to address the needs of a fast moving and thriving sector.
There is a new generation out there and I can’t wait to work with those who are at the forefront of this thoroughly modern revolution.