The Government’s plans to build a Tech City in the capital have been boosted by Google’s decision to open a “technology community centre” in the East End of London.
Google said the seven-floor building at the heart of London’s “Silicon Roundabout” will be used as a shared space for a number of internet firms.
The search giant’s announcement is just the tonic the capital’s technology industry required after social networking website Twitter chose to set up its first European base in Dublin.
Prime Minister David Cameron’s plan to construct a rival to Silicon Valley was announced in November last year. The project has received support from prominent technology companies such as Cisco, BT, Google and Facebook, as well as £400m of government funding.
Google UK engineering director David Singleton said: “We announced our involvement in the Tech City project last year, and we’ve been working hard to make this vision a reality.
“Finding a suitable building is the first major step, and we hope to announce more details about the organisations we’ll work with and how they will use the space in the coming months. East London is already home to hundreds of innovative British start-ups and has huge potential for economic growth and new jobs over the coming years.”
The Bonhill Street office will be refurbished before it is open for business in 2012, according to the search giant. It will be mainly used as a training workshop for London’s start-ups, although Google will have a presence in the offices, a spokesman for the company said.
TechHub, an office in Old Street which helps developing internet companies, is expected to have a presence in the new offices. Google, publisher Pearson and Telefonica’s developer scheme Blue Via all helped establish TechHub.
Co-founder of TechHub, Elizabeth Varley, said it was “great to see companies [that are] talking about supporting Tech City actually moving ahead and doing it in a real way”. Varley played down the importance of Twitter deciding against setting up offices in the capital and said the social networking website “is not the be-all-and-end-all of the London start-up scene”.
Chancellor George Osborne said: “Google’s multimillion-pound investment in London’s Tech City is great news.
“It shows that we can create the right environment to attract start-ups and established high-technology businesses, supporting our programme to create new jobs, diversify the economy and create long-term economic growth. This shows that Britain is open for high-tech business.”