Croydon’s computer nerds and entrepreneurs were out in full force on Thursday at a meeting to discuss the borough’s future as London’s “second Tech City”.
In the second of a series of public meetings about sustainable regeneration in Croydon, organiser Jonny Rose, 25, told the crowd it was time to push the initiative forward.
He said: “This isn’t some pie-in-the-sky vision. There are tech-cities all over the world: in America, Israel, Silicon Roundabout. It’s not a revolutionary idea.”
Start-ups from across the borough showcased their projects alongside business developers, local families and Council officials.
The event was held in Matthew’s Yard, a space off Surrey Street Market that serves as both a café and a creative hub. Rose, originally from Purley, told Eastlondonlines: “It’s clear that there is a real demand from the public to continue to meet, share ideas and build Croydon Tech City.
“For better or worse Croydon Council is quite stretched at the moment, but the nature of this sort of economy [digital start-ups] is that people are self-sufficient.
“It’s a very level playing field and capital investment is low. Croydon could be a wonderful home for start-ups.”
He explained that many businesses were now being “priced out” of Silicon Roundabout in Hackney because of the influx of “big dogs” in the area. He said: “This is the place to build a business if the city centre is too expensive”.
Steve Bardwell, owner of Croydon-based genealogy social-media site Famberry, told Eastlondonlines : “Everyone’s got a part to play in this.”
Nick Kaufmann, 25, a postgraduate specialising in contemporary urban society at the London School of Economics also attended the meeting. He told ELL: “It was exciting; you could tell there was a lot of support and energy in the room.
“Maybe Croydon could be the first real creative city in London; not a place that bends over backwards for people in the software or design industries, but a place that supports all kinds of creativity, from the creativity of immigrant shopkeepers to faith-based community groups to youth and students.
“If Croydon as a ‘Tech City’ can support these kinds of people and help them turn their talents into a sustainable source of income and satisfaction, I’m all for it”.