Procurement · 16 November 2015

Silicon Roundabout still a hotspot for budding tech businesses, but rising rents are taking their toll

From 2013 to 2014, Silicon Roundabout saw the creation of 15,620 new tech businesses
From 2013 to 2014, Silicon Roundabout saw the creation of 15,620 new tech businesses – this year it was down to 10,280

Silicon Roundabout is still the top destination for budding tech entrepreneurs, but the number of startups looking to set up there has dropped around a third to 10,280 in the year up to March 2015.

For the same period between 2013 and 2014, Silicon Roundabout saw the creation of 15,620 new tech businesses, but new research from accountancy firm UHY Hacker Young has indicated that startups are starting to look at other options more seriously.

Business owners are still focusing on central London, but Old Street’s neighbouring areas were rising in appeal, such as City Road. The number of firms setting up there increased by 497 per cent in the 12 months up to March, with 8,400 businesses setting up there.

Colin Jones, a partner at UHY Young, said that while Silicon Roundabout is still “at the forefront of national business creation” and at “the epicentre of the UK’s technology industry”, rising rents meant many startups chose to look elsewhere.

Silicon Roundabout attracts new firms and more established names like Amazon and Cisco alike, with “smaller one-man-bands such as individual programmers or media consultants” interested in the opportunities available to collaborate with their neighbours.

Other popular places to start a new firm were Borough and Bankside, North Finchley and Woodside Park and Covent Garden and Leicester Square.

Jones said Borough Market’s extensive redevelopment was making it a big draw, while “the construction of the Shard as the tallest building in the EU has put the area on the map internationally”.

Over in Covent Garden and Leicester Square, the number of businesses increased from 720 up to 3,690 over the course of the year.

Office Genie’s Peter Ames recently put together a guide to some alternative destinations for setting up businesses, with the proximity to central London without the sky-high rents. His picks included Cambridge and St Albans.

Tech City UK recently announced its new programme targeting the capital’s early-stage tech firms that have the potential for much more. Its Upscale initiative will connect 25 scale-ups with free expertise and advice to help them grow to their fullest potential.

Gerard Grech, Tech City UK’s chief executive, said the programme aims to “bring together a powerful peer network, connecting aspiring founders with proven business leaders who went all the way and now want to give back to the next generation of leaders”.

The likes of Zoopla CEO Alex Chesterman and Skype co-founder Niklas Zennström will be on hand to provide advice to the businesses.

To be considered for the programme, digital firms need to be headquartered in the UK and growing by 40 per cent month-on-month over the last quarter on key business metrics such as active users or subscriptions.

Image: Shutterstock

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Rebecca is a reporter for Business Advice. Prior to this, she worked with a range of tech, advertising, media and digital clients at Propeller PR and did freelance work for The Telegraph.

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