Ten years ago, the start of the credit crunch changed the world as we know it.
It sparked an astonishing set of events, from which repercussions are still being felt.
The resulting recession pushed down rents across London, affecting less developed areas most. At the same time, there was a growing excitement about the potential of technology to transform the way we live.
A collection of startups with interesting ideas congregating in the same part of London within walking distance of the City – specifically East London’s Shoreditch and Old Street areas, now known as Tech City or Silicon Roundabout.
The wave of disruption had begun.
An impressive experiment
Soon after, a series of major developments enhanced the disruption being generated. In 2010, the UK government made a significant commitment to accelerate the growth coming out of this slice of London. In 2012, Google’s Campus London building opened. 2014 was the first London Tech Week – a celebration of technology in the capital, with Silicon Roundabout at its heart.
After San Francisco and New York City, today London has become the world’s third largest technology startup hub. It takes the best of creativity and fuses it with business acumen and a laser-like focus on solving the problems at hand.
Of course, Silicon Roundabout’s impact isn’t limited to London. It’s inspired startup clusters across the UK, from Cambridge to Edinburgh to Bristol and beyond.
But what sets it apart is its geographical proximity to the UK’s academic, financial and political spheres. It’s this that has galvanised powerful players from these worlds get involved in Tech City’s prospects and effect change.
A contagious buzz
Despite having evolved considerably since its early days, Tech City has retained its buzz. There’s a truly collaborative spirit with like-minded individuals coming together to hash out ideas, find opportunities to accelerate their business’ impact and establish partnerships.
Its independent coffee shops are filled with people plugged into MacBooks, its restaurants are meeting rooms, its bars play host to networking drinks.
And this all takes place against an aesthetically industrial backdrop. Through disruption, East London has retained industrial purpose – it’s just redefined that purpose.
For us, like many others in the startup ecosystem, simply being a part of this is exciting. The atmosphere is electric and conversations burst with possibility.
It’s why we thrive on introducing people to this world. We know that the impact of our Connect Sessions lasts well beyond the day, week or even month of the event. Even though each session is unique, the common outtake is the stream of ideas generated by participants, and the conversations it sparks between startups, investors and corporations.
Disruption is inevitable but we believe this presents possibilities, not threats. It’s why our mission is to embrace the disruption.