Tech City UK Blog

As the technology ecosystem develops, more and more digital businesses are re-locating or expanding into the UK. We hear from Fabio Torlini, MD EMEA, WP Engine, on why the country is so attractive

 

It’s been just over five years since David Cameron announced the establishment of a Tech City in the heart of East London, a place for tech startups to establish themselves and spread their roots. Quickly developing itself into the digital heart of Europe, Tech City now acts as a gateway into the continent for many North American tech firms.

 

Thanks partly to the HQ-UK initiative established earlier in 2015; Tech City is drawing in more US funding than ever before, and has become a highly lucrative location for international companies to establish themselves. In the last financial year alone, London’s Silicon Roundabout attracted more than 15,000 new businesses. But why are so many organisations moving to the UK? How can they prepare for the move, and what are the benefits of establishing your business in the UK?

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Why come to the UK?

 

Now ranked the top city in Europe for supporting start-ups and scale-ups in the European Digital City Index, London has become the place to be for tech companies operating in the EMEA region. With Cambridge, Cheshire, Brighton, and Warrington also growing dramatically as strong technological hotspots, the UK has become the heart of European tech and business.

 

With this in mind, it is not surprising that more companies from the US are establishing their EMEA bases in the United Kingdom. The HQ-UK initiative has given US startups and SMEs a helping hand to expand into London. Even big corporations such as Google and Facebook have recently invested hundreds of millions of pounds in their new London headquarters, demonstrating a commitment to their UK branches.

Google headquarters, Central Saint Giles, Covent Garden, London, Britain - 06 Aug 2012...Must credit PENSON/Rex Features Mandatory Credit: Photo by PENSON / Rex Features (1811356a) A Peek Inside Google's London Headquarters It features a secret garden, 'Granny flat' interiors and an allotment - welcome to Google's new London headquarters. The 160,000 sq ft hub features cutting-edge design that offers a quirky take on the traditional office. Occupying half of the ultra-modern Central Saint Giles development in Covent Garden over five floors, renowned interior designers PENSON were given the task of creating a vibrant workspace. The result is amazing variation of work and lounging space which finds room for 1,250 non-traditional desks. A space called Granny's Flat is furnished with chintzy chairs and fittings that wouldn't look out of place in an elderly relative's lounge, while the Lala Library hosts a giant semi-circle white sofa adorned with pillows and surrounded by arty and inspirational books. Surreal workspaces have tongue-in-cheek names such as the Velourmptious snug, a green, padded homage to the traditional British pub, and Snug-lushness, a garish flower-print padded bench seat. An area dubbed the Town Hall allows seating for 200 people and features velvet curtains, exposed ceilings and a video wall, while the Market Square is a rustic cafeteria area. For active staff members there is a gym and dance studio, a 'bikedry' for cycling gear storage and a shower block for those sweaty from the morning workout, cycle or commute. For those really wanting to escape the office, a 'Hedge Your Bets' secret garden on the roof terrace affords stunning views of London surrounded by grass and foliage - all with wi-fi connection for laptop work. Eco considerations are at the forefront of design with a high content of reclaimed or recycled materials employed and the use of water-based products and timber floor boards with Eco plywood perimeter

For us at WP Engine, opening our office in the UK has proven to be a highly positive venture. We decided to move to London to better serve our existing 3,000 customers in the EMEA region, and increase our global growth. We doubled our customer base in the UK to 6,000 within the first year.

 

Prepare for your move

 

When taking your business into another region, it is paramount that you plan ahead and prepare for any possible scenarios which may occur. Having the right people with specialist knowledge of the market is essential. The London tech scene has a younger and more personal atmosphere than the industry does in the US, so you can’t approach the two places with the same attitude. At WP Engine, it was important that we had the right team on the ground who had good local contacts and relevant experience of doing business in the UK.

 

Choosing the right location is also important. The UK has several clusters which feature strong technological centres, including Shoreditch and Cambridge, as Tech Nation demonstrated. Making sure you’re in the right area will dramatically affect how well your business operates. When we opened our UK HQ, we chose Second Home in Tech City. With fully serviced offices full of the right equipment, access to great facilities, and a good internet connection from day one, we were able to settle in quickly and focus on growing our business straight away.

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Over the last year we’ve grown our team, our local customer base, and our partners. Second Home was created to bring together likeminded creative agencies and tech companies. We’ve been able to take advantage of this collaboration to help us reach our business goals.

 

Reaping the rewards

 

Once you’ve got yourself set up and established in the UK you can begin to reap the benefits of having a base of operations in the heart of the EMEA region. As we’ve found, you will quickly be able to better serve local customers and build new relationships.

 

The tech scene in the UK is growing quickly and London is a gateway into the rest of Europe for tech companies. Being at the centre of the UK ensures you have superb links across the rest of the continent and helps your growth.