Croydon Tech City townhall: putting Croydon on the map in London Technology Week

By - Tuesday 30th June, 2015

#Croydon #TechCity co-founder Jonny Rose reports on the movement’s sophomore summit

Photo by Fluid4Sight, used with permission.

Almost a year after the success of our first Croydon Tech City summit, Croydon found itself once again hosting a summit of venture capitalists, tech companies, and property developers.

This time it was was bigger and better than before: over two hundred delegates attended the Croydon Tech City ‘townhall’ – a major event in the London Technology Week calendar – to understand what part they could play in London’s fastest growing tech cluster.

Over two hundred delegates from universities, tech, venture capital & property companies attended to learn more about Croydon Tech City and the borough

The aim of the event was threefold: to celebrate the progress that has been made over the past two years, to profile Croydon Tech City to the investors, creatives and tech founders who are increasingly keen to move to the borough, and, finally, to invite partners to work with the CTC organisation to build the capital’s best tech city.

Tech Business and Support

Mark Bailey, Han-Son Lee and Daryl Wilcox.
Photo by Fluid4Sight, used with permission.

By now everyone knows the incredible stats about Croydon Tech City: the borough is home to over a thousand digital, technical and creative startups, and – according to the ONS – is London’s fastest growing tech cluster, having experienced a 38% growth in the number of digital, tech and creative companies setting up in the borough with TMT (technology, media and telecommunications) since Croydon Tech City’s inception.

Han-Son Lee, founder of Loaf, described his positive experiences of moving his startup to Croydon Tech City: he had benefitted from the tight-knit tech community, exceptional workspaces, and access to talent. We also heard from Daryl Willcox who spoke about why his PR newswire/database company DWPub has been in the borough for over a decade (“Fifteen minutes to London, fifteen minutes from the beach and countryside”), and why had recently renewed his lease for another ten years.

Tours of Croydon Tech City ran throughout the week – one delegation of tech founders had come all the way from Australia!

Croydon Tech City is not just attracting companies, but workspaces, incubators and accelerators, too. Sussex Innovation Centre is a second innovation centre funded by Sussex University which is opening in No. 1 Croydon in September. Director Mark Bailey, who formerly ran his own healthcare analytics business, spoke with relish at the opportunity of combining the university’s wealth of talent and resources to accelerate Croydon’s tech boom. As Croydon Tech City continues to mature, the CTC organisation will also actively work with professional services and accelerators/hubs to help them operate in the borough.

Culture and Environment

John Bownas discusses the fourteen festivals occurring in Croydon this year.
Photo by Fluid4Sight, used with permission.

Shaping Croydon’s culture and environment has been key to Croydon Tech City’s mission from day one. We’re now at a point where there is at least one tech event happening in Croydon each week. More importantly, nearly 50% of our events are run by others in the tech community – something that we are keen to see increasing!

There is now at least one tech social, class or networking event happening every week in Croydon. If you want to run a tech-related event in Croydon, get in touch with Croydon Tech City!

But at the end of the day, when the developers have finished coding, when venture capitalists have completed another successful investment and when founders have closed another deal, they all need places outside of the office to play, to relax and to be entertained.

Kevin Zuchowski-Morrison, the international art dealer who opened RISE Gallery in St George’s Walk last year, spoke with conviction about the transformative power of art and how the local art community was changing the face of Croydon. Adam Jackowski, co-owner of hipster favourite BRGR & BEER, explained how craft beers, pulled pork and falafel were bringing out a more discerning creative and professional crowd in Croydon. John Bownas, the man behind Ambition Festival – the latest addition to Croydon’s burgeoning festival calendar – spoke on how the borough’s fortunes were on the up when it came to music, theatre and independent entertainment venues.

Future Tech City

Future Tech City volunteers.
Photo by Fluid4Sight, used with permission.

From youth to adult education, from apprenticeship programmes to full-time jobs, Croydon Tech City wants to make sure every South London resident has the opportunity to participate in the tech economy of the (near and immediate) future. Future Tech City has gone from strength to strength, and is now working with a variety of organisations (including Code Club and Apps For Good) to ensure young people in the borough gain access to free training and placements, and that companies in the area have a guaranteed pipeline of incoming tech talent to work for them.

As the Future Tech City continues to grow in scope, the next stage of Croydon Tech City is focussed on growing our base of volunteers and building out a ‘Young Croydon Tech City’ network, where schools can sign up to get their pupils exposed to the same quality of events and speakers as our usual Croydon Tech City events.

Promotion and Investment

Croydon Tech City is leading the charge on the promotion of the borough as a place to live, work and do business. Almost weekly, Croydon Tech City is in national papers, radio and tv, being profiled as a rapidly rising tech hub – something which brings talent and businesses to the area, and has wider benefits for education, property, infrastructure, employment and branding. The movement is changing perceptions of the borough for the better.

As the Croydon Tech City grows, so too do its outward-facing responsibilities.

Croydon Tech City will make sure the needs and demands of South London’s technology community are articulated clearly to those who legislate the area’s fortunes.

For Croydon to become a world-leading tech ecosystem requires more than just a native community of excellent talent and companies, we also need to promote and represent Croydon and the wider South London areas at the highest level of government. As Croydon looks forward to another half-decade of progress, Croydon Tech City will make sure the needs and demands of South London’s technology community are articulated clearly to those who legislate the area’s fortunes. This will also mean advising on local infrastructure and property issues, making it easier for companies both domestic and abroad wanting to relocate to the borough.

Croydon Tech City co-founders, Sarah Luxford and Nigel Dias.
Photo by Fluid4Sight, used with permission.

In a week which saw Croydon Tech City in The Financial Times, on the radio, and enjoying cocktails at City Hall with Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, the townhall was a significant milestone in making sure the community’s accomplishments were recognised and served to put Croydon on the map.

As Croydon Tech City matures from having built a ‘tech city’, to now actively looking to partner with those can make Croydon the best tech city, the result at the end of the day was clear: Croydon Tech City is open for business, and people are buying it.

The Croydon Tech City season finale – before a two month recess – takes place on Thursday 23rd July at 7:30pm at Matthews Yard. To attend, please sign up here.

Jonny Rose

Jonny Rose

Jonny Rose is a committed Christian who has lived in the Croydon area for nearly twenty years. He is an active participant in his local community, serving at Grace Vineyard Church and organising Purley Breakfast Club, and was ranked "Croydon's 37th most powerful person" by the Croydon Advertiser (much to his amusement). He owns a lead generation company. He is the Head of Content at marketing technology company Idio, the founder of the Croydon Tech City movement, a LinkedIn coach, and creator of Croydon's first fashion label, Croydon Vs The World. Working on Instagram training and a Linkedin lead generation service. Views are his own, but it would be best for all concerned if you shared them. Please send your fanmail to: jonnyrose1 (at) gmail (dot) com

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