5 Reasons Why London Is The Place for Smart City Tech

Nov 15, 2016 · blockdox.co.uk

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Any visitor to London will notice the amazing transformation happening to the UK’s capital city.

Most visible is the 14.2 million square feet of office space currently under construction, or the remarkable subterranean construction of Crossrail (now known as the Elizabeth Tube Line), one of Europe’s largest transport and infrastructure projects. Recently completed projects such as 20 Fenchurch Street (known as the Walkie Talkie building) or The Shard stand prophetically over London’s changing skyline. Similarly, successful regeneration schemes such as the East Village (formerly London’s Olympic quarter), King’s Cross, Battersea Power Station and the emerging Nine Elms district (formerly Earls Court) proudly demonstrate London’s adaptability.

Less visible and perhaps more important given its impact potential, is the remarkable amount of innovative technology being used to design, build, & operate London as a world leading smart city. Here are 5 reasons why London is the place for smart city technology:

1. The Property Industry

The United Kingdom is a world leader in the property industry, and London is home to many of the world’s best property companies. Indeed, the world’s leading professional body for the property sector, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors has its global headquarters next to the British Parliament in London’s Westminster. These property organisations are not just involved in new projects, but also the operation, management and restoration of older buildings too. The expertise of these firms is also sought after worldwide, which means many projects across the globe can be accessed locally from London too. This means there is a unique blend of skills and expertise across a range of building types and locations.

This large concentration of accessible potential customers is invaluable for smart city tech companies wanting to engage with, test and develop new ideas.

2. Access to Talent

Any company, particularly a startup, relies on the quality of its staff to succeed. London is home to some of the most experienced and skilled staff in the world, with a magnetic ability to attract more all the time. These are not just in the core techy fields of development, engineering or design but in all the key areas that a company needs including finance, law, and human resources. Unlike some other jurisdictions, the employment market is also supported by an established legal system which generally achieves a fair balance between the rights of workers and their employers.

Whether you are startup or a growing company, there is a pool of talent available on your doorstep to help you.

3. The Tech Scene

London has an active and vibrant tech scene which is an excellent catalyst for new ideas, collaboration and networking. Every week there are conferences, events, delegations visiting, meetups and drink receptions – some lasting late into the night. Although Silicon Roundabout, located in and around the Old Street neighbourhood of East London, attracts much of the attention – the term now describes a buzzing tech industry all across London. There are now four complimentary Smart City centres in London: Cognicity based in Canary Wharf, the Future Cities Catapult in Farringdon, Idealondon in Moorgate and Here East at the Olympic Park.

4. Access to Funds

As one of the world’s major financial centres there is ready access to startup and growth capital in London.

A generous tax incentive from the British Government means that many startups find their initial funding through investors incentivised by the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme, and growth capital supported by the Enterprise Investment Scheme. As an alternative, or to supplement these cash injections Crowd Funding has now established itself as a major player in financing company’s both equity and debt available. Then there is an active and interested investor community ranging from angels to venture capitalists, and a growing list of household name companies they have support to establish and grow. Finally, the British Government has a well-organised and efficient innovation funding program delivered through experts at InnovateUK.

The choice and availability of financial support in London is arguably unrivalled anywhere else in the world.

5. Digital Districts

As London’s presence at the Barcelona Smart City’s Expo shows, the city is leading the way in piloting smart city opportunities. Several districts across the London offer smart city companies a fantastic opportunity to pilot their technologies ‘in the wild’. Ideas are not just left on paper and do not have to travel far to be tested, iterated and implanted.

In South London Digital Greenwich is delivering the European Union’s Sharing Cities programme, a €25 million investment in new energy and transport solutions with Lisbon and Milan; connected and autonomous vehicle trials; and the development of platform approach to service delivery. It also offers an advanced test-bed and validation environment for smart city applications.

In North London, Camden has started making use of digital technology using smart road sensors to cut down the costs of monitoring car parking, and investing in digital skills, APIs and shared code.

And in East London, the Canary Wharf Group created Cognicity – a smart cities hub to innovate, trial and implement smart city technology across their estate.

For these reasons, it is no coincidence that London is producing some of the most innovative smart city technology in the world today. The World’s best are in Barcelona at the Smart Cities Expo. Come and meet us on the Mayor of London’s stand.

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