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Big business boost for Tech City

Four companies including Vodafone and Barclays, have announced plans to establish bases in east London's ‘Tech City’ area.

They join Intel, Google and other large firms in the area, also known as Silicon Roundabout.

Announcing the decisions at the Global Business Summit on ICT, held in London on 3 August, chancellor George Osborne described the move as a “brilliant example” of large companies supporting growth in the zone.

The Tech City Investment Organisation, based in the London district of Shoreditch, was established by UK Trade and Investment in November 2010 to boost jobs and start-ups, and encourage global investment in technology R&D in London.

Vodafone plans to open a ‘Vodafone xone’—modelled on its centre in Silicon Valley in California—in the Silicon Roundabout area around Old Street by the end of 2012. This will identify mobile internet and creative industry businesses with innovative ideas and help them move to market.

Start-ups will be provided with office space and expertise in business development, electronics and data analytics, as well as access to 400 million Vodafone customers worldwide.

Trade and investment minister Stephen Green described the investment as “an excellent reflection of Tech City’s success as a thriving hub of innovative technology companies, combined with ready access to Europe’s largest venture capital community”.

Barclays is funding a venture that is expected to help the growth of over 22,000 SMEs over the next five years by providing support and encouraging collaborations.

Other Tech City newcomers are Japanese gaming company GREE, setting up a studio to develop mobile games, and Italian Morning Boost, whose new office—its first overseas incubator—will create 50 jobs.

These investments follow July’s announcement that Amazon plans to open an R&D facility in the Barbican area, near Shoreditch. Facebook also intends to launch a site in London.