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5 reasons why London is the place to be for IoT startups

The forecasts are in and last week’s Consumer Electronics Show confirms it – 2015 looks like being the year the Internet Of Things explodes.

Judging by the number of connected gadgets launched at the show, you would be forgiven for thinking that Las Vegas was the centre of the new IoT universe. But, as electronics exhibitionists packed up and returned home, the stage for technology’s latest act reverted to reality in their native cities around the world.

The future of IoT

As one of the sectors likely to see strongest growth in the years ahead, IoT stands to benefit developers’ key hubs significantly. As metropolises emerge as leaders of the space, IoT makers will be drawn to the most fertile environment.

While until a few years ago, Silicon Valley was where founders’ eyes used to focus as they began building businesses, but that is the legacy of a 20-year boom in PC and web development. I would argue that London is one of the most attractive hubs to develop a new start-up for the following reasons:

1. Fertile ground

London already has a hard-to-rival profile when it comes to the digital startup environment generally. The last few years have seen a rapid increase in the number of startups and skilled professionals in the city. This backdrop, and the sheer diversity of digital skills on offer, are ideal conditions for any outfit planning to meld both hardware and software.

2. IoT community on-tap

London’s sector-specific Internet Of Things community is growing fast. At regular meetups like Internet of Things London, Wearables and IoT London, and The Business of IoT, developers, thinkers and founders from a range of companies and organisations get together over a drink to share ideas, call for support and look for ideas to invest in.

3. Tech City support

The UK government’s Tech City UK programme has been a fantastic spur for technology development in the city, encouraging thousands of developers to gravitate to the city. Now that support is also on offer to Internet Of Things developers specifically, with a £1m Internet Of Things Launchpad competition recently launched by the organisation in tandem with others.

4. Finance is ready

London is the best place in Europe to find investor funds for your tech business – I personally experienced this after moving here 10 years ago and comparing the London potential against many other European countries. London’s sheer number of potential investable prospects makes things very attractive for the new wave of IoT investors.

5. A continent on our doorstep

When US companies make connected gadgets, they may congratulate themselves at the domestic market opportunity under their feet. But they are usually hard-pressed to go to the next stage, localising their hardware for European consumers. This leaves London ready to fill the gap as a hub for continental smart tech production.

The other players

Companies like AlertMeProduct Health and Superflux are proving that London is host to an array of innovative outfits operating in sub-sectors like smart home, connected power and air quality monitoring, respectively.

London is not the only place attractive to Internet Of Things founders: Barcelona hosts Internet Of Things World Forum, Europe’s largest IoT meetup. Germany is an excellent place to be for hardware companies who want to tap in to the country’s strong industrial base, and China is already where many Internet Of Things gadget designers find a growing number of fabrication plants.

Cambridge, already a hub for tech development over the years, is also proving to be a good R&D ground for Internet Of Things hopefuls, while Paris is a good bet for companies that want to take advantage of France’s generous tech tax incentives.

But, when you look at the overall mix of ingredients that any tech company needs, you will be hard-pressed to find a more appealing blend than The Big Smoke. I think we are about to see London be recognised as a real world hub in IoT. In fact, if I were in Las Vegas, I would put money on it.

Emanuele Angelidis is the CEO of Breed Reply, an incubator for IoT focused-startups based in London.

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