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As Silicon Roundabout leads, where do the rest of the UK tech hubs fit in?

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A so-called war of the tech cities was declared at the start of 2015, at which time it was revealed that an increasing number of job vacancies in IT were becoming available beyond the confines of the capital.

To complement this, salaries outside of London are also becoming more competitive, with Cambridge, Birmingham and Glasgow named as contenders, while recruiters also pitch a better quality of life as a sweetener.

However, while there is life beyond the borders of the Big Smoke, London’s Silicon Roundabout has the densest population of tech businesses in the UK, according to a study from estate agency Stirling Ackroyd – eight times more than closest rival Manchester and its Silicon Mill.

“At the bright heart of Britain’s technology industry, there’s an entrepreneurial startup spirit to the Old Street area that’s creating its own gravitational force,” said Andrew Bridges, managing director of Stirling Ackroyd.

“Social media is the Bloomberg of the 21st century, HTML is our new lingua franca, and Shoreditch is fast becoming the Canary Wharf of the 2020s.”

There’s often talk of a corporate battle between the UK and the US, but apparently there is a greater need for businesses outside of London to launch an attack on the capital.

Jack Hidary, an entrepreneur and Google adviser, previously spoke to Real Business and offered key American traits UK companies can embrace. “The window to dominate your market is smaller than you think,” he said.

“I find that American companies are very aggressive in their effort to go and dominate their sector because they know the number one in the sector tends to monopolise the capital and attention in the space – it sucks up the air in the room.”

With that in mind, tech hubs beyond London may be well placed to take hold of that.

Other findings from Stirling found Silicon Roundabout is 16 times more packed than the Birmingham area of the Silicon Canal, 17 times more crammed that the Silicon Pier in Brighton and 20 times busier than the Silicon Gorge of Bristol.

Read more on London’s tech industry:

With the distance between the Shoreditch hub and other UK locations getting further still, it has 33 times the concentration of businesses in Glasgow’s Silicon Glen and 73 times that of Cambridge’s Silicon Fen. The latter is particular important as Cambridge was originally considered the dominant hub, so a notable shift has taken place.

That’s not to say that Cambridge, or indeed any other part of the UK, isn’t making moves to attract companies. Virgin Media and Cambridgeshire County Council partnered in March to take free WiFi to the county and city, providing businesses, locals and tourists alike with connectivity.

“Better connectivity has the power to transform our cities. Cambridgeshire is an example of a county that is embracing this; a true pioneer of the next generation of connected cities,” said Gerry Arthurs, director of public sector, Virgin Media Business.

Meanwhile, Noelle Godfrey of the Connecting Cambridgeshire programme added the county “has always been at the forefront of new technology and evolving the way we interact with the world”.

The fact Shoreditch leads so drastically, however, simply outlines the pulling power of London.

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has even said the city is better than America’s Silicon Valley.

“I can tell you, things aren’t that great in Silicon Valley. London has all these incredible advantages of a tech scene, but it’s also a place people want to live. Nobody wants to live in Silicon Valley – it’s dreadful out there,” he said.

Wales, who lives in London, added: “London is this incredible cultural city, it’s at the crossroads of the world. In the US you have San Francisco for tech, Los Angeles for movies and Washington for politics. In London you have all these things. It’s a great place to do business.”

Image: Shutterstock

Continue reading on the next page to dig deeper into the mind-boggling number of tech companies packed into each square kilometre, and find out where the creative industry fits in.

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