Here Be Startups: Exploring London's ‘Tech City’ Digital Cluster

Max Nathan, Emma Vandore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


The digital industries cluster known as Silicon Roundabout has been quietly growing in East London since the 1990s. Rebranded Tech City, it is the focus of huge public and government attention. National and local policy makers wish to accelerate the local area's development: such cluster policies are back in vogue as part of a reawakened interest in industrial policy. Surprisingly little is known about Tech City's firms or the wider ecosystem, however, and cluster programmes have a high failure rate. We perform a detailed mixed-methods analysis, combining rich enterprise-level data with semistructured interviews. We track firm and employment growth from 1997 to 2010 and identify several distinctive features: branching from creative to digital content industries; street-level sorting of firms; the importance of local amenities and a lack of conventional cluster actors such as universities or anchor businesses. We also argue that the existing policy mix embodies a number of tensions, and suggest areas for improvement.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2283-2299
JournalEnvironment and Planning A
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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