The City of London is a leading financial hub and home to some of the world’s largest banking and insurance organisations. Five minutes walk from Old Street you will find Silicon Roundabout, more commonly known today as Tech City.
The City of London was constituted by the Romans in the 1st century, however the City is now only a tiny area of London. During the 18th century, there was a period of extensive growth across the City due to an increasing population, the early beginnings of the Industrial Revolution, and London’s role in the British Empire. This rise in growth continued throughout the 19th Century when the City became the world’s primary business centre. Today, only New York City rivals the City of London as financial capital of the world.
Many global banks and businesses have their headquarters in the City of London including the likes of Aviva, BT, Lloyds Banking Group and Unilever. A number of the world’s largest law firms are also based in the City. Over the last 25 years, Canary Wharf has become London’s second financial district with a number of banks and businesses relocating here after years of being based in the Square Mile.
California’s Silicon Valley has established itself as the epicentre of digital innovation. As of 2013, the region employed about a quarter of a million IT workers. Silicon Valley is widely known as a leading hub for high-tech startup companies. However, at Insider London we know that London has its own ‘Silicon Valley’ that rivals its American counterpart. The Old Street roundabout in East London is aptly name ‘Silicon Roundabout’, a term coined by software developer Matt Biddulph due to the high number of web businesses, many of them startups, which moved here after the 2008-2009 recession. These smaller web businesses took advantage of the fact that historically East London had much lower rent than elsewhere in the city.
In 2010, Silicon Roundabout was re-labelled ‘Tech City’ by David Cameron as part of a government promotional campaign for the area, advertising the area as the centre of Europe’s digital scene (much to the irritation of the current Silicon Roundabout tenants).
As the Old Street area has contributed much to the UK’s digital growth and has attracted entrepreneurs from across the globe, it’s not surprising that Silicon Roundabout/Tech City has new offices popping up all the time. However, with shiny new offices come increased rent prices and many startups not having the resources to grow their digital ambitions. Ironically Silicon Roundabout has a history of poor internet connectivity with many startups making complaints to Hackney Council that they aren’t able to run their businesses effectively! Hackney Council has said that companies need to be better prepared as they are moving into properties like old warehouses, which have not previously had an internet provision.
The City of London has been well-known as London’s financial centre since it was established in the 19th Century and this has remained the case even with the rise of skyscrapers in Canary Wharf. However, the future of Silicon Roundabout is uncertain, if the high rent prices continue, startups companies will look for a new area to test out their ideas without having the pressure of paying extortionate office space fees.
Looking to inspire your Business Studies students or give your colleagues an insight into the tech world? Our Silicon Roundabout and Tech City London Walking Tour and London Finance Walking Tour will introduce you to the world-renowned tech companies who call London their home and explore the ever-changing skyline of the City of London.