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Third of business leaders think Silicon Roundabout is a sitcom

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In a survey of 1,350 global business leaders, Barclays found that the “Made in Britain” movement had far more awareness around the world than the capital’s much-heralded Silicon Roundabout.

The top trait of UK entrepreneurs, according to the survey respondents, were reliability (53 per cent), smartness (50 per cent) and politeness (50 per cent). However, a number of challenges were identified – including the impact of Brexit on trade, the so-called “British reserve” holding businesses back because of politeness and the belief new US businesses fare better.

Some 62 per cent of overseas business people think that UK entrepreneurs are far too polite, 65 per cent think they could be better at negotiating deals, and an additional 65 per cent believe that they could be better at communicating with them.

Silicon Roundabout, which can be found in and around Old Street underground station, was a term first coined by former Doppler CTO Matt Biddulph as a way of putting an identity to the burgeoning community of tech startups in the area.

However, with other hubs such as Silicon Fen in Cambridge and Silicon Gorge in Bristol emerging in recent years, and US TV comedy Silicon Valley hitting the screens, there appears to be some confusion on a global scale when it comes to London’s business technology hot zone.

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Commenting on the research, which also showed that overseas business leaders believe the UK is a “good place” to start a business, Richard Heggie, head of high growth and entrepreneurs at Barclays, said: “This shows UK entrepreneurs are held in high regard by business leaders globally, particularly in Brazil, China and the US.”

Separate research carried out by Property Partner found that house prices in Britain’s main technology hub cities and towns have “surged” in the last half decade. House prices in Cambridge have grown by 58.7 per cent in that period, while those in Reading have increased by 60 per cent.

London’s Silicon Roundabout has been the birthplace of companies including Moo.com, which was one of the first to set up there, as well as Secret Escapes, Last.fm, Songkick and TransferWise.

For British businesses to continue to flourish, Heggie had some words of warning. “It’s critical that, against the backdrop of Brexit, the UK does everything it can to maintain and crucially build on this [global reputation]. That includes capitalising on the trade relationships and investment opportunities that the research highlights in order to thrive.

“Policy makers and the wider industry have an important role in boosting the reputation of UK enterprise. Our findings show that improved digital, innovation and communication skills will increase trade by almost a third. As a recognised global hub for high growth businesses, we must do all we can to declare we are open for business for these economic dynamos.”

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