A technological revolution is taking place in a most unlikely part of the city. You might be forgiven for thinking that the east side of London has the stronghold on creative start-up businesses, but Croydon could take over from Old Street’s Silicon Roundabout as a major technology hub in the capital.
In February 2013, Croydon Tech City (CTC), was set up by friends Jonny Rose and Nigel Dias. CTC is an organisation of software developers, creatives, venture capitalists and tech start-up founders who are working together to make Croydon an attractive home to technical and digital start-ups.
Co-founder and Croydon resident Jonny Rose is passionate that Croydon has as much to offer new businesses as Old Street. “What Shoreditch was like seven years ago is what Croydon is like now,” he says. “Inexpensive rents, lots of developers, relatively edgy. I wouldn’t use the word grotty, but it’s got that urban griminess. There’s so many reasons we could out-position Silicon Roundabout. We have got everything east London’s got except its profile.”
Rose and Dias were spurred into action by the London riots in 2011 that severely affected business and industry confidence in Croydon. Many major well-established businesses such as Allders and Nestle have closed their doors or moved away from the area and have not come back.
As a Croydon resident himself, Rose observed that change and development were slow to come about so the pair decided to take matters into their own hands “I was acutely aware policy-makers weren’t doing anything to rehabilitate the area, nothing was being done in the wake of the riots. The economy was absolutely stagnating and I became aware that all the future thinking economies were shifting to become tech cities. Croydon needs this.”
CTC are currently working with over 40 start-ups to help them grow and there are 320 digital or tech firms in the borough that could benefit from the development of Croydon as a hub for creative industries.
As Shoreditch becomes saturated, and the rental prices increase, Croydon could become a more attractive option, with good transport links and cheaper rents, Rose is confident that Croydon has as much to offer digital entrepreneurs: “We’re soon going to have this complex with the cheapest Grade A office space within the M25,” he says. Jonny Rose and CTC are ensuring that the fledgling entrepreneurs know that Croydon is open for business.