How London is Luring Start-ups

Welcome to the “Silicon Roundabout,” which is luring young companies with government funding, Google-sponsored office space, and a new start-up competition.

Silicon Roundabout, London – Torcello Trio, via Flickr

The start-up scene in London may not be as well known as the hotbeds of entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley or New York City, but it is striving to offer entrepreneurs looking to launch companies a buzzing business environment. The UK capital hopes to lure talent with its East London “Silicon Roundabout,” (OK, a “roundabout” sounds a bit dinky compared to a whole “valley,” but the area boasts a new Google-sponsored space for start-ups as well as 300 innovative companies) as well as measures to boost the city’s start-up scene, including £75 million in funding for high-tech small and medium businesses from the government’s new Innovation and Research Strategy for Growth and the Digital London summit showcasing local tech talent that’s due to be held March 13 to 14.

Now a new competition tied in to the summit and supported by London-based idea-management company Wazoku is offering another avenue of assistance to fledgling British businesses with a market ready or beta-stage product. Companies that sign up to the Digital London Startup Challenge will first face a public vote on which firm is most deserving. Then the public’s opinion and a panel of expert judges, including Ray Wang, CEO of Constellation Research Group, and Joe Baguley, chief cloud technologist EMEA, VMWare, will narrow down the field to a shortlist.

Finally, visitors to Digital London will vote on the winner who will receive a collection of business-boosting goodies including, of course, exposure, as well as an exhibition stand at next year’s Digital London event, access to Wazoku’s idea-management software, production time in a video suite to record a promotional video and £200 to spend at Moo.

“At Wazoku we are all about innovation and as a start-up we know that one of the biggest challenges faced by new businesses is getting seen and found by the right people. We suggested running a Startup Challenge as a way of involving startups in the event and to showcase some of the many innovative new businesses and ideas that are out there,” Wazoku founder Simon Hill said in an e-mail message. “The Challenge gives start-ups a great opportunity to be seen by potential customers—and some influential judges—and to create some buzz around their new business.”

Should U.S. start-ups pay more attention to new competition (or inspiration) from across the pond?

By Jessica Stillman

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