Knight Frank has created a Tech team to tap into growing demand from digital firms looking for office space in the capital.
The property advisory company said it has poached industry veteran James Nicholson from rival firm JLL to lead a new central London Tech and Creative team and build the company’s profile in the fast-growing sector.
The new division will also act as a “test bed for innovation”, identifying and trialling new technologies and practices that could eventually be adopted by the wider business, Knight Frank said.
Nicholson, who is also is a member of Tech London Advocates which offers free initial advice to start-ups, said: “I am extremely pleased to be joining Knight Frank at such an exciting time.”
“We are in the midst of a digital revolution, which is spawning a swathe of innovative, high growth businesses that are disrupting the status quo and reshaping the way that people view life, work and the workplace,” he added.
Rents in popular tech stomping grounds have surged in recent years on the back of growing demand, with offices in Shoreditch now fetching an average of £65.00 per sq ft compared with £40.00 per sq ft four years ago.
Over that period, TMT firms have acquired 12.5m sq ft of office space in central London, which is equivalent to 15 per cent of the entire West End stock – or the total office stock of Leeds.
That compares with the eight million sq ft taken up by financial services firms since 2011, and the 5.6m sq ft acquired by lawyers and accountants.
Experts have warned that sky-high rents are beginning to dampen the enthusiasm of would-be tech entrepreneurs looking to set up shop in London’s Silicon Roundabout.
Research published by accountancy firm UHY Hacker Young said the number of start-ups established near the Old Street Roundabout dropped to 10,280 in the 12 months to March, down roughly a third compared with the 12 months to March 2014.
Knight Frank said Old Street is becoming a location for “stage two tech firms who are acquiring the size and characteristics of mainstream companies”, while the start-up scene is now migrating further east towards districts such as Whitechapel.
“This is a healthy progression for the market. If London is to generate the future Googles or Amazons it needs to allow the expanding firms to move out of the start-up incubators and into modern offices. It also means other parts of London will benefit from the economic uplift an influx of start-ups can bring,” the company said.