Old St. roundabout to house ‘civic space’ for start-ups

The government has announced that will invest £50 million in regenerating Old Street roundabout, the nominal centre of London's Tech City.

The roundabout, which currently houses a large advertising hoarding, will "transformed into Europe's largest indoor civic space, dedicated to start-ups and entrepreneurs in East London.

"This new civic building will host classrooms, co-working spaces and workshops equipped with the latest 3D printing technology, for use by both the local start-ups and the wider community."

"As well as backing the businesses of today, we are creating an aspiration nation and also backing the innovative, high-growth businesses of the future," said Prime Minister David Cameron. "That’s why we’re investing in creating the largest civic space in Europe – a place for start-up companies and the local community to come together and become the next generation of entrepreneurs.”

When asked how a medium-sized roundabout might house the largest civic space in Europe, a spokesperson for the Tech City Investment Organisation said that the Greater London Authority is conducting a feasibility study for the development. If it is not possible to build on the roundabout itself, the centre will be located nearby.

The TCIO also announced a slew of corporations making moves in the region. These are:

  • Microsoft will open a new technology development centre in the area
  • Cisco is opening a new innovation centre in Shoreditch
  • KPMG is launching an office in Shoreditch to offer start-ups advice
  • IBM is bringing its global entrepreneur programme to the region
  • Salesforce.com is working with the TCIO on a "programme of events that will showcase the innovation and dynamism of Tech City start-ups"
  • Barclays has formed a new "creative partnership" with Ravensbourne College, "working with … students to bring technology and design to bear on specific business challenges"

For a forthcoming feature on enterprise-focused start-ups in the Tech City region, Information Age spoke to Mike Rowlands, managing director of software development agency LShift, authors of RabbitMQ.

He questioned whether encouraging global technology companies to set up shop in the region will benefit either local tech companies or the economy. "If the Tech City proposal is to encourage big businesses like Cisco and Google to move here, all it's going to do is cannibalise the talent that is available to us," he said.

"What they should do is make education policy better, and make immigration policy better," he added. "We need to stop sending the people that this country trains very well back overseas as soon as they finish their qualification."

Yesterday, chancellor George Osborne announced that £50 million – the same amount as the new civic space – will be shared between 12 cities to fund broadband investment. 

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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