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Startups will struggle outside London, says Mind Candy

Caroline Baldwin

The UK’s technology startups should stay in the capital to take advantage of the city’s talent, said CEO of Mind Candy, Michael Acton Smith.

“If you’ve got an idea, you can do it anywhere,” says Smith. “But there’s an advantage to locating near other startups where the talent pool is full and concentrated.”

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The CEO of the British entertainment firm, which created the virtual online world of Moshi Monsters, told Computer Weekly at Dublin’s Web Summit, “it’s going to be tough” for startups moving away from London’s Tech City.  “Becoming a startup in Manchester or elsewhere is a lot easier said than done,” he added.

Last week, a report said startups were finding it increasingly difficult to afford to live and work in London. It said technology SMEs were struggling to grow to their full potential in London and are looking for other cities in which to set up their businesses.

Smith wishes these companies luck and said it would be great if the whole of the UK could become a hub for startups, but realistically the energy is centred in London.

However, he added that the US has managed to escape the Silicon Valley bubble, with hotspots popping up in Denver, Boston and New York. But Smith said Silicon Valley is always going to remain the biggest, as is London in the UK.

In the rest of Europe, Smith pointed to Berlin as a popular area for startups, as well as Helsinki. “With the demise of Nokia, the positive aspect is that there are smart and well-trained people who are now setting up their own startups.”

Mind Candy is one the most successful technology companies to come out of the Old Street area in East London, which is now home to the city’s Silicon Roundabout and Tech City.

He said the government has been doing great things to promote startups in the UK. “They recognise the necessary importance of startups up to driving economic growth. And what they’re doing – shining a spotlight, which is attracting attention [to Tech City] and creating a positive spiral.”


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