From Monday May 20, thousands of techies, entrepreneurs and investors are gathering in Shoreditch Town Hall for the third annual Shoreditch Digital Festival.
The festival is the culmination of an all-year round celebration of the technical and creative talent of East London, specifically the Tech City area between the Olympic Park in Stratford and Old Street in Shoreditch.
The offices of several technology giants like Facebook and Google, alongside more than 500 small and medium enterprises, are currently located in Tech City.
One of the presentations that was surrounded by a lot of buzz on the opening day was that of the City Unrulyversity – a free pop-up university in the heart of Tech City.
It is a collaboration between City University and Unruly, a video technology company, aimed at combining “Academic rigour and a commitment to pushing the boundaries of knowledge with practical relevance from the world of business.”
— City Unrulyversity (@CityUnruly) May 20, 2013
Transport for London was also at Digital Shoreditch to launch an exclusive sneak peak of their new website and accompanying app, which were very well received.
Many participants as well as speakers at Digital Shoreditch expressed their enthusiasm for the new app on Twitter. Alex Shebar, Yelp London Community Manager and speaker at the festival wrote:
— Alex S (Yelp!) (@yelplondon) May 20, 2013
Besides celebrating the many technology-based start-ups, the festival can also be seen as a tribute to the development of East London in general.
In April this year, Mayor of London, Boris Johnson pledged to boost tech investment through a £22m start-up fund focused on financing tech startups as well as helping other creative industries beyond technology.
Gordon Innes, CEO of London & Partners, the official promotional organisation for London, said “The amazing growth that has taken place in east London over the last few years has been significant to the city’s economy and reputation. Without a doubt London’s success is being driven by centres of excellence such as Tech City, and forms a key part of London’s business future.”
Kam Star, who founded Digital Shoreditch, told Tech City News that the growth of tech initiatives in Hackney has actually been a challenge for the festival in terms of staying relevant when there are so many other offers in the area.
“We need to keep finding interesting ways to engage the community, that’s the real challenge. How do we stay relevant? The only way we can do this is through our crowd. (…) Digital Shoreditch is a community thing. Everything I do is based on the feelings, the emotions, the direction I’m getting from the rest of the community.”
The festival will run from May 20-31 and is expected to attract around 15,000 UK and international visitors.