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No.10 guru: UK tech scene is AN EXPLODING CHEESE

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Rohan Silva - Downing Street's backroom adviser credited with hyping east London's Silicon Roundabout of tech startups - has given a rare interview. Speaking to WiReD UK, the "senior policy adviser" to the Prime Minister attempted to find a metaphor for the phenomenon.

This is what he came up with.

I think a tech scene is probably a bit like a fine cheese – there’s a moment when it all comes together. I think it’s really about to explode.

An exploding cheese. What could be more apt?

Silva took the initiative in rebranding Shoreditch's Old Street roundabout as Tech City – and has passionately supported it with a range of measures - such as appointing an "ambassador", creating a new quango, and generous handouts to web-tastic venture capitalists. Rather too much hype, according to older industrialists and innovators including Sir James Dyson.

The Tech City quango created to bang the drum for Silicon Roundabout burned through £1m in its first year. The organisation reclassified clothes shops, law firms, dance studios and marketing agencies as “tech companies”.

More recently, startups in Old Street complained that they’re being priced out of the area. Don't worry, says Silva. He is exploring a scheme for overseas companies where the UK taxpayer will also provide desks in exotic locations, all over the world:

One of the things we’re looking at it with UKTI [UK Trade & Investment – an export quango] is to say particularly to American companies: "Right, if you open an office in Tech City we will give you a desk in UKTI - essentially government buildings in cities in cities around the world. So you open an office in London, you have offices in Bangalore, Mumbai, Tokyo, Beijing."

Come to Old Street – and see the world.

The interview is in the April edition of WiReD, and available on printed paper (or iPads) at the moment. Thanks to Reg columnist Steve Bong - an intimate of Silva - for the tip. ®

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