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Vodafone to invest in start-ups in Tech City, London

Caroline Baldwin

Vodafone is the latest UK technology company to invest in start-up technology businesses in London.

The mobile giant will open a new technology and incubation centre in East London, an area dubbed as Tech City due to its proximity to the so-called “Silicon Roundabout.”

The company will invest in the most innovative businesses within the mobile internet and creative media sectors.

A Vodafone spokesman said the investment is aimed at business in the mobile internet sector. “We intend to offer business development, technical information and strategic help to a very wide spectrum of businesses, who don’t necessarily have to be consumer facing,” he said. “Individual businesses may range from dealing with coverage all the way through to apps.”

The scheme will draw on the expertise of Vodafone Ventures, which has been investing in new businesses for over 10 years. The technology and incubation centre in Tech City on the other hand, will be very similar to Silicon Valley’s Vodafone Xone which opened last year. Similarly, Vodafone Xone offers investment and support to US start-ups.

Vodafone is not alone in announcing a move to Tech City. At the UK Trade & Investment's Global Business Summit on ICT event, Barclays announced a partnership with business services company Central Working to encourage the growth of small and medium sized businesses. Located in London's Tech City, the initiative is expected to help over 22,000 businesses during the next five years, supporting estimated growth of more than £350m within five years.

However, these companies are not the first to boost the technology scene in London by expressing an interest in Tech City. IT company iCity has recently won a bid to turn the Olympics media centre into a datacentre following the games.

iCity will also create media studios, university facilities, a digital academy and its own new business incubator. iCity claims a total of 6,600 jobs will be indirectly created as a result of the deal.

The 31,000sq metre building already has 1,300 internet ports and 600km of fibre optic and copper cabling. iCity said it will double the government’s existing infrastructure investment.

Amazon has also chosen London as a new hub for the development of its digital media products. The new offices will house the design and development teams from LoveFilm and Pushbutton – both owned by Amazon – along with software development engineers, graphic designers and user interface (UI) professionals.

Although specific projects have not been named by Amazon, the company revealed the areas it would be working on, which include creating interactive digital services for TVs, games consoles, smartphones and PCs, further development for digital media on its website, and surrounding that with services and application programming interfaces (APIs) for the new inventions.

There will also be room to extend on existing products, such as LoveFilm streaming services.

Facebook is also expanding its London offices and recruiting new staff. While not within the Tech City cluster of technology companies, Facebook is intending to move into a new 36,000sq foot office in Covent Garden by early next year.


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