Borough: The New Centre For London Tech Businesses

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Silicon Roundabout is losing its edge and new tech startups are moving to Borough. This is according to new data revealing that entrepreneurs and creative clusters are tiring of the high rents in East London and flocking to flexible work spaces south of the river.

Ten years ago, Silicon Roundabout was fast rising to ascendancy as the tech epicentre of London. But in 2018, the number of startups choosing the area is waning fast, while the number choosing the Southwark localities of Borough and London Bridge is very much on the rise.

Borough
Illustrations by Jimmy Hay
In 2016, the amount of companies setting up shop in Silicon Roundabout fell by 70 per cent, from 10,280 to 3,070 according to data from accountancy firm UHY Hacker Young and HMRC. A combination of sky-high demand and rapidly rising rents has sent newer startups seeking less crowded alternatives. One of those is London Bridge, which is taking over pole position as the top choice for startups in London according to flexible workspace agency Hubble, boasting a raft of new co-working spaces, such as Fora, perfect for nascent businesses. According to Hubble, more than 37 per cent of all searches for flexible office space are now in South London, taking into account London Bridge and the Southbank, as well as areas like Borough and Bankside.  

The region has truly transformed itself from a low priority zone to one of the hottest zones to work in in 2018 – searches in the space have risen by more than 400 per cent in the last year.

This year, London Bridge became the most popular location in London for companies searching for flexible office space, accounting for almost 30 per cent of searches, up from just 3.7 per cent of searches in 2017. The region easily surpassed Shoreditch, home to Silicon Roundabout and popular Old Street, which accounted for a lower 27 per cent of searches.

Dan Bladen is co-founder and CEO of Chargifi, a cloud-based company working on wireless charging based in Fora’s Borough space. He said: “Moving office to Borough was the best thing for us. The area provides us with a location where we can extend the office experience – we’re a stone’s throw from London’s most famous food market and we’re positioned directly opposite Borough station with great transport links.”

According to Mr Bladen, the availability of flexible work space was crucial to the company’s choice to set up in South London. Borough definitely now offers this with a plethora of new co-working options sprouting in the region in recent months to cater for the influx of startups.

And just like the East London hotspots, London Bridge and Borough are close to the centre of the city, with galleries, tourist attractions and services close by.

“Having services and experiences on-tap means we can meet the demand of bringing a fully connected and on-demand online experience, into reality,” he said.
According to Hubble, more than 37 per cent of all searches for flexible office space are now in South London, taking into account London Bridge and the Southbank, as well as areas like Borough and Bankside. The region has truly transformed itself from a low priority zone to one of the hottest zones to work in in 2018 – searches in the space have risen by more than 400 per cent in the last year.
 
At the same time, the number of new startups listed in Southwark rose 16.6 per cent between 2015 and 2016 according to the most recent data from the Office for National Statistics, compared to just 7 per cent between 2014 and 2015.
Illustrations by Jimmy Hay

This is in stark contrast to Silicon Roundabout where the same figure fell by 80 per cent and, in that time, the area also fell to sixth place of all UK regions in terms of new business creation, having been ranked first for two years in a row.

The average Old Street office today costs £45 per square foot according to estate agent Andrews Denford and Boyd, but nearby Liverpool Street is a pricey £70. That compares to the average Southwark rent for a primary office at £55.

Chargifi’s Mr Bladen said: “Now more that ever, there is an expectation to provide a great office experience for a team – somewhere inspiring with coffee on tap, stand-up desks and, above all, a great location with superb links to the rest of London. Borough really does tick all the boxes”.