#Croydon #TechCity: The nexus of Britain’s “Southern Tech Corridor™”

By - Wednesday 9th October, 2013

#Croydon #TechCity leader Jonny Rose explains why Croydon is the keystone bridging the gap between London’s and Brighton’s tech scenes


Despite my best efforts to convince people otherwise, Croydon Tech City is not Southern England’s first – nor even most impressive – tech cluster.

Indeed, Brighton has had a flourishing tech cluster for well over a decade; bolstered by two top universities, a strong creative culture and a can-do attitude that only a coalescence of agreeable climes and radicalised Gaia-worshipers can foster.

As Croydon struggles to define itself as a brand, I note that the nature of the debate is curiously introspective.

Discourse about Croydon continues to be myopically introspective and unable to situate the area convincingly within a national and international context

To wildly misappropriate a famous quote: “No city/town/village (delete as appropriate) is an island”, and Croydon – whether it becomes a ‘smart city’, retail village or Transition town – has to be conscious not just of its internal definition, but also of what it is in relation to its neighbours.

Of all our regional neighbours, our relationship between the tech clusters found in London and Brighton, and how we might come to form Britain’s “Southern Tech Corridor™”, will be amongst the most important if we are to resuscitate Croydon’s fortunes.

Croydon Tech City will create and fortify a “Southern Tech Corridor”

Many of you who have the pleasure of travelling cattle-class to and from London Victoria via East Croydon will recognise the high volume of Brightoners who are coming into the city. Yet apart from the exchange of travelling workers on weekdays and exchange of travelling hedonists’ bodily fluids on weekends, the relationship between Brighton and London is surprisingly weak.

When it comes to Brighton and London’s tech scenes, both have been content for years to operate in a situation of ‘splendid isolation’. Yet of late, London and Brighton have regularly converged at Croydon Tech City; our tech scene deliciously positions Croydon as an attractive middle-ground for proponents of both areas to meet, socialise and do business.

We are already seeing initiative being taken by Brighton, with the Sussex Innovation Centre – a highly respected institution whose founding manager I had the pleasure of meeting earlier this year – looking to develop a second site in Croydon.

Conversely, companies such as Orchard Post and Kinopto have already relocated to the borough, with prominent London-based service providers such as Kilburn & Strode already supporting Croydon’s nascent tech scene.

Croydon Tech City, in short, has created – and in time will fortify – Britain’s “Southern Tech Corridor”.

Making East Croydon Station a destination, not a thoroughfare.

East Croydon Station is one of London’s busiest stations and to that effect is understandably one of the key sites of interest for Croydon at both an aesthetic and infrastructure level.

For the moment, it is a thoroughfare (albeit a very important one) for the Southern tech economy – a point upon which to wait for a connection riding out either to Brighton or into London. But, with Croydon Tech City positioned as the nexus of the London-Croydon Tech City-Brighton Southern Tech Corridor, East Croydon Station will become a destination; for those from London who don’t want to travel out to Brighton, and for those living in Brighton or staying near Gatwick who don’t want to go all the way into the capital.

Understanding Croydon as the nexus of the Southern Tech Corridor is a message that will impact everything from local tourism to how we are discussed in Westminster.

The impact of this idea – of Croydon becoming the nexus of the Southern Tech Corridor – is a profound one that will shape local tourism, economies and messaging. With the right kind of support from local and central government and private rail companies, emphasizing Croydon’s importance as a terminal between the London-Brighton tech economies could well encourage further investment on rail infrastructure.

At the moment, Croydon Tech City is a potent narrative and brand. It will become even more so when intrinsically linked to the fortunes of the City and Brighton.

As the epicentre of South London’s tech activity, Croydon Tech City may be viewed as just another localised tech cluster. As part of The Southern Tech Corridor, it could very well emerge to become the nexus of Britain’s economic future.

THE NEXT #Croydon #TechCity event will take place on Thursday October 24th 7:30pm at Croydon Conference Centre, make sure you sign up now on Facebook or to confirm your attendance.

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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  • Christian Wilcox

    At present the whole of Central Croydon is a through-fare. That is what needs to change. Johnny agrees with me that there is no point in training up these young’uns just to see them leave for a better deal elsewhere. We need the to study and stay in Croydon.

    We need:

    - Safety. No nerd will go to a war-zone to hang out.
    - Affordable housing. You can’t do diddly if you’re constantly having to move and the landlord won’t let you put in fibre-optic ( for example ).
    - A pay rise. The Croydon package is crap. Why come here when there is better pay in London & Brighton?

    Fix those 3 and Croydon Tech City will be able to come together. And that is where getting Political comes in. Someone has to, or no change will happen.