Chancellor George Osborne today revealed some details on plans for East London Tech City – including confirmation that Barclays and Vodafone will be investing. He called it a “triple whammy” because they were joined by a Japanese social gaming business, Gree.
The announcements seem to preempt Osborne’s hope of a venture capitalist circle-jerk for technology startups. Barclays is going to provide funding to Central Working – which lets offices to start-ups – with the aim of nurturing 22,000 new businesses over the next five years, reports the FT, but exactly how much the bank has invested was not disclosed.
Vodafone, meanwhile, has promised that it will build a technology lab. The announcements are sort-of new: both companies said that they would invest when the Coalition’s plans for a technology park in the East London were first announced.
Social gaming company Gree, which has a strong lead in the Japanese market, has also committed to opening an office. Gree already has offices operating in Singapore, Seoul, Tokyo, Beijing, Dubai, Amsterdam, Sao Paulo, and San Francisco. An Italian company called Morning Boost has also said that it will open an office and create 50 jobs.
“You will not find a country anywhere in the world that is more open to technology, more open to investment, and more open to business,” Osborne said.
Of course, there are plenty of technology success stories in the UK already, such as Cambridge-based ARM, which is currently trouncing the competition in energy efficient chip IP, and Rockstar North in Scotland immediately coming to mind as obvious examples. But the East London Tech City initiative seems more concerned with moving cash through angel and investment schemes for moneyed men to invest in start-ups than actual technological innovation.
P.S. Look at the Kernel for a comprehensive rundown on reasons to approach the Tech City Investment Organisation with caution.