UK start-ups need Silicon ambitions

Philip Salter
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AMAZON is coming to London's Tech City. Jeff Bezos's company will do a lot to help build what many entrepreneurs call an "entrepreneurial ecosystem". This analogy is a useful one: a self-sustaining system in which entrepreneurs feed off one and other's talent. Tech City - still primarily based around Old Street's Silicon Roundabout but theoretically stretching out all the way to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford - certainly isn't Silicon Valley, but it has come a long way quickly.

Amazon joins the competing tech giants of Cisco, Facebook, Google and Intel in Tech City. A society open to the world's - i.e. America's - most innovative companies is a good society, but we should also aspire to produce at least one tech company to challenge the might of Silicon Valley.

Paula Byrne will be managing director of Amazon's tech hub. Byrne was the founder of Pushbutton - a British digital agency specialising in designing, developing, and delivering interactive television. On 28 July last year, Byrne sold out to Amazon. Last year, Amazon also bought LoveFilm, another successful British start-up. It's unfair to criticise any individual for choosing to sell up as the creator of Pushbutton's value, Byrne was free to do whatever she wanted with the company - but it's hard not to wish we could rise to the challenge of building UK giants.

Tech City's Google Campus could help. Google has gifted seven floors of work space to its partners to support firms in various stages of completeness. Partners include:

■ Seedcamp: an early stage mentoring and investment programme (

■ TechHub: an international network of physical technology spaces (

■ Central Working: a membership coworking club (

■ Springboard: an intensive 13 week mentorled accelerator programme (

The hope, of course, is that all of this will create a British Facebook or two. Fingers crossed.

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