Google's good news for Tech City

 
The Queen in front of Google logo Will the new hub attract the kind of visitors that its Victoria headquarters has in the past?

A few days ago I wrote about the plans to turn east London into a rival for Silicon Valley, an idea which seems pretty ambitious even far-fetched.

But today comes news that one of the the world's internet giants is making a major investment in the area.

Google is to set up an investor hub, leasing a seven-storey building just off Silicon Roundabout - or Old Street as it used to be known.

The search giant says it plans to "open up the space to other organisations that support technology entrepreneurs, working together to provide a launchpad for new London-based start-ups and developers."

There is already a similar space for start-ups just around the corner in the form of the Tech Hub, which is packed with eager young entrepreneurs working 18 hour days to get their ideas off the ground.

The mere presence of a giant Silicon Valley business like Google in the area should only serve to increase the buzz.

Great news then, and an initiative that Google says is the first of its kind for the company anywhere in the world.

And naturally the Tech City chief, Eric Van Der Kleij, is punching the air, welcoming the arrival of such an illustrious name in the technology industry as a real boost for the community.

Phase one

There are, however, a few questions to be asked about this initiative.

First, Google is making it clear that none of its existing staff will be moving east.

It appears that the building in Bonhill Street will be used for some Google events, but there's no suggestion that any engineers will work there, so it will be up to others to fill the building with new firms and new jobs.

Google's investor hub in London Google has leased the building until 2022

Looking back to David Cameron's speech last November which launched the whole idea of Tech City, this appears somewhat less ambitious than what the prime minister promised.

He said some of America's most dynamic companies had been persuaded to set up "research and development" spaces in east London and went on:

"Google has agreed to create an Innovation Hub in East London too, which will be a creative space for their researchers to come together with developers and academics to create the next generation of applications and services."

Google's Innovation Hub may be a "creative space" - but there's no sign that its researchers will be spending any time there creating anything new.

To be fair, the company's press release stresses that is just the first stage in making its commitment to Tech City a reality.

So, yes, it's a good day for east London's technology ambitions.

But if the vision outlined by the prime minister is to be realised, then the area will need to see companies like Google, Intel and Cisco fill the lofts and warehouses around the Silicon Roundabout with engineers as well as events organisers.

 
Rory Cellan-Jones Article written by Rory Cellan-Jones Rory Cellan-Jones Technology correspondent

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  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 9.

    MyVoiceinYrHead - post 5
    Try again! Not everyone has the capability of being upwardly mobile. Not everyone is an intellectual. Moving our manufacturing base overseas may be cheaper, but it lends nothing to young people who just want a chance to be trained in a trade. Don't be lofty. We need people to do all kinds of jobs, that aren't rated up there with the 'captains of industry'.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 13.

    Its a positive in that Google's name alone will attract interest to the area, and hopefully further investment; the universe doesn't revolve around London though, and there are very able techy folks' in't norf too...

    Sad though, that it seems the only thing we can do these days is high tech services. Why doesn't manufacturing come to the UK? Required skills for it are dying out, I fear.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 26.

    Beautiful!
    Let the British do all the engineering, and let the American Mega-corp derive an "investor's" profits from their labor. Boy it's good to see U.S. business is "helping" you Brits to thrive.
    For a minute there it just looked like parasitism, but then I realized Google is offering to share it's name, maybe even put up a sign, so I guess that's a balanced contribution.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 28.

    I worked for a banking software house in the 80's and we moved to a brand new building by Old Street roundabout. Area was a rat infested dump but we were within walking range of our City customers. I can see no reason why anyone in any other tech business would want to base themselves in that area, its a pain to get to and depressing when you get there... actually that's just London isn't it.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 3.

    So essentially google is moving into the private landlord business? It's not immediately obvious how this is 'innovative'...

 

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