Silicon Valley vs Silicon Roundabout

As a British Expat living in San Francisco, I am often asked the question “Which do you prefer, San Francisco or London”. My American friends recoil in shock when I say San Francisco, and they always rebuttal with “London has it all, and all in one place”.

Is that so?

London is the everything capital of the world, and recently TripAdvisor named it “The best city in the world”.

One thing distinctly missing from London is Technology companies. Our biggest bragging rights, and only Technology company on the FTSE 100, is Sage Software of Newcastle (Up North, somewhere).

British Technology companies have a much better chance of selling up to an American firm, than going to an IPO. Take the sale of Autonomy to HP as a prime example.

Comediy Serie Silicon Valley
Photo: HBO’s Comedy Series Silicon Valley

This is so much of a concern for the UK government, that they are creating their own version of Silicon Valley, hijacking half the name, and putting it on a roundabout. How very, well, British.


Photo: London’s “Silicon Roundabout”

Two key roadblocks for the roundabout is access to capital and spending on R&D.

For Technology companies with potential to make the step up into the big leagues, they need funding and venture capitalists. Which are scarce in the UK vs American counterparts, and where they are ten a penny. “Oh you have a Tech company? Can I give you a round of funding” is commonly overheard in San Francisco.

UK companies spend a whole percent less of GDP on R&D than the US. While this maybe linked to the reduced funding available, they will hold back companies willing to go take on the might of Google, Facebook and Twitter.

In truth, Silicon Valley has had a 50 year head start over Silicon Roundabout, we shouldn’t expect anything big overnight.

But if we fan the flames the right way, maybe I will be selling Lead Generation on the Roundabout, and not the Valley.

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