London steams ahead as most important tech hub in Europe

Research from the London & Partners reveals capital is set to boost economy by £18bn in 2015

London has been branded the most important tech hub in Europe, after research from London & Partners, the mayor of London's promotional company, revealed the capital is set to boost its economy by £18bn in 2015.

The report was produced by Oxford Economics, as part of London Technology Week, and shows that the number of companies in London’s digital technology sector has increased by 46% since the launch of Tech City five years ago. The sector now employs 200,000 people, a 17% rise since 2010.

As a result, mayor of London Boris Johnson has unveiled an online hub called Tech.London. Sponsored by IBM, and created by Gust, the website features information and resources for people in London to access opportunities in the tech sector, connect with each other and grow their own businesses.

"With our unrivalled mix of investors, talent and creativity, it is hardly surprising that tech businesses and entrepreneurs are clamouring to be part of the incredible London tech story," said Johnson. "This sector has flourished beyond recognition in the past five years, creating thousands of jobs and outpacing the rest of the economy. 

“London Technology Week is rightly a celebration of that success. Now we need to continue our work to boost connectivity across the capital and arm the tech stars of the future with the skills they will need to drive forward this valuable industry for years to come."

London & Partners chief executive Gordon Innes added: "Over the past decade more international tech investment projects have come to London than Paris, Dublin, Madrid, Amsterdam and Munich combined. It's testament to London's visionary tech entrepreneurs and international investors who have made London the most exciting place in the world for tech."

Speaking about Tech.London, IBM cloud ecosystem and developers general manager Sandy Carter said: "We couldn't be more excited to announce the launch of Tech.London, a centralised platform built on IBM Bluemix, for all of London's technology and startup community. Through this new digital hub, IBM's cloud technology is helping to connect and unite developers from across London, leading to new business ideas and continued growth for the local economy."

Read more about skills in the IT sector

Additional research from professional services company EY revealed more than 1,000 international tech investment projects were located in London between 2005 and 2014, whereas the second-most attractive city – Paris – only had 381. The whole of France reported 853 projects.

"In the eyes of international investors, London is a truly world-class magnet for technology investment," said EY UK chief economist Mark Gregory. "Fostering innovation and the capital's growing reputation for research and development investment appears to reflect the electrifying impact of the fast-growing tech sector. There is now a growing belief that next global tech giant will come from London."

GP Bullhound co-founder and managing partner Manish Madhvani added: "The UK has raced ahead as the undisputed home of unicorns in Europe, with London producing the vast majority of Britain's billion-dollar tech companies. Growth is accelerating because we have created an environment capable of sustaining high levels of investment across a range of tech sectors."

London Technology Week

Furthermore, as part of London Technology Week, Google has launched a pilot programme for entrepreneurs over the age of 50.

The programme, called foundersover50, will be run at Google Campus in London and follows on from the programme Google ran for new mums to support older entrepreneurs in growing their business ideas.  

"Diversity has always been part of Google's mission," said Google UK & Ireland managing director Eileen Naughton. "Since we opened Campus London in 2012, we've supported a growing community of 42,000 entrepreneurs and developers. But we strongly believe that online products will only get better and more useful if we invite all segments of society to influence and create technology."

Former Olympic champion Denise Lewis has also used London Technology Week to promote a programme aimed at young people in London and New York.

The programme has been launched by ed-tech company Skoolbo and will see primary school students in London and New York play against each other.

Lewis, who is an international ambassador for Skoolbo, said: "Technology can be a game-changer for education. Thousands of children around the world either miss out on education or are disengaged from the system of learning. Skoolbo is about taking on those challenges that are often so difficult for children within literacy and numeracy. It's child-led, it's fun and it's interactive. Go London!"

Read more on IT technical skills