The body behind the Tech City scheme in east London has refuted claims that it has wasted money on the project in the past year.
The Tech City Investment Organisation has been criticised for spending more than £1m on marketing and administration for the project in a single year. The figures were revealed following a series of Freedom of Information requests.
This criticism comes not long after its techcityuk.com website, which cost £50,000, was slammed after it was found to be based on a basicWordPress theme. Tech City officials defended the website, however, saying it was good value.
The purpose of the hub is to attract technology entrepreneurs and investors to the area around Shoreditch’s Silicon Roundabout by promoting it as a hotbed for high-tech start-up firms.
Speaking to the Hackney Citizen, a Tech City official said: “The spending on Tech City has had a direct impact on the number of technology and creative companies that have opened offices in Tech City.”
The spokesperson claimed that more than 600 technology and creative companies are now based in the area, compared to just 200 in November 2010. However, critics debate whether all of these firms can be considered to be technology or creative businesses.
Part of the technology hub’s £1m budget was spent on promotional and mentoring events for would-be entrepreneurs and on trying to convince the government to implement tax breaks and other incentives to encourage people to create new high-tech companies.
The Tech City official went on to say that the technology hub could boost the local economy for years to come by attracting new firms to the area after the 2012 Games take place in July and August.
The official added: “This will benefit the Hackney community in several ways, including improving local amenities and creating jobs – not just high-tech ones, but also more widely across the local economy.”
Hackney Council has to date invested £35,000 in the project, mainly to create a high-tech apprenticeship scheme. It is hoped that the initiative will persuade more youngsters in the area to consider pursuing a career within the creative technology industry.
Other supporters of the initiative include Google, Facebook and Intel.