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Here be startups: exploring London's 'Tech City' digital cluster

Nathan, Max and Vandore, Emma (2014) Here be startups: exploring London's 'Tech City' digital cluster. Environment and Planning A, 46 (10). pp. 2283-2299. ISSN 0308-518X

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Identification Number: 10.1068/a130255p


The digital industries cluster known as Silicon Roundabout has been quietly growing in East London since the 1990s. Rebranded Tech City, it is the focus of huge public and government attention. National and local policy makers wish to accelerate the local area’s development: such cluster policies are back in vogue as part of a reawakened interest in industrial policy. Surprisingly little is known about Tech City’s firms or the wider ecosystem, however, and cluster programmes have a high failure rate. We perform a detailed mixed-methods analysis, combining rich enterprise-level data with semistructured interviews. We track firm and employment growth from 1997 to 2010 and identify several distinctive features: branching from creative to digital content industries; street-level sorting of firms; the importance of local amenities and a lack of conventional cluster actors such as universities or anchor businesses. We also argue that the existing policy mix embodies a number of tensions, and suggest areas for improvement.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2014 Pion and its Licensors
Divisions: Spatial Economics Research Centre
What Works Centre
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
T Technology > T Technology (General)
JEL classification: L - Industrial Organization > L2 - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior
L - Industrial Organization > L5 - Regulation and Industrial Policy > L52 - Industrial Policy; Sectoral Planning Methods
M - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting > M1 - Business Administration > M12 - Personnel Management
O - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth > O1 - Economic Development > O18 - Regional, Urban, and Rural Analyses
O - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth > O3 - Technological Change; Research and Development > O31 - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
R - Urban, Rural, and Regional Economics > R1 - General Regional Economics > R11 - Regional Economic Activity: Growth, Development, and Changes
Sets: Research centres and groups > Spatial Economics Research Centre
Collections > Economists Online
Research centres and groups > What Works Centre for Local Economic Growth (WWG)
Date Deposited: 17 Jul 2014 08:37
Last Modified: 20 Feb 2021 05:17
Funders: British Venture Capital Association, BT Plc, Federation of Small Businesses

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