IBM and the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, have launched an online hub designed to create a community for London's technology sector and support the city's startups.
Tech.London was launched at an event in London's City Hall attended by V3. It was built by startup investment specialist Gust and is delivered via IBM's Bluemix cloud platform.
The website provides a single place for all the information on London's startups and early-stage business investment opportunities, and offers guides on London's startup incubator and collaboration spaces.
Tech.London also provides a continuously updated database of London's startup events, career opportunities, education courses, and news on the city's technology and digital community.
Tech.London had over 1,000 startups registered on its website at launch, and the number is expected to grow rapidly as the online community builds its awareness in London's technology scene.
IBM described the community hub as a place for London-based technology entrepreneurs and investors to get all the information they need, and to help larger enterprises identify technology offered by small companies that might be of benefit.
Big tech support
IBM will provide up to £80,000 worth of cloud services and support for one year to help startups become fully-fledged businesses.
Sandy Carter, general manager at IBM Cloud Ecosystem and Developers, told V3 the investment extends beyond a purely philanthropic endeavour and helps bring new companies into IBM's ecosystem.
"We want to invest in the startups when they are young so that when they grow up they are loyal to IBM," she said.
Carter added that IBM works closely with the startups on the Bluemix platform to ascertain whether any features can be added to improve the cloud platform.
"That helps us innovate our product and make our product the best in the business," she added.
IBM could not comment on whether its involvement in London's startup scene would see the company acquire new businesses, but Carter said that it presented a lot of opportunities for further partnerships for the startups and IBM.
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales also spoke at the launch of Tech.London, and welcomed the website as a way to create a structured, open-access online community that the city's vibrant technology sector has lacked.
"One of the pieces of the puzzle that I think Tech.London is instrumental in helping to solve is the idea of community," he said.
"Obviously we have a tech community in London but it's been a bit disparate, it's had a lot of moving parts and pieces.
"I think it's fantastic to have a place that's free and open where we can have access to information about how to find investors, how to find digital partners, how to find people with shared interests and things that we want to do."
Wales also praised London as a city for startups, noting that its mix of cultures and industries and history of creativity has created a rich ecosystem that offers more "cross-breeding" of ideas than in Silicon Valley.
However, Wales also highlighted the importance of a community that nurtures the growth of startups, such as the ones found on the US west coast.
"The more we can create that connectivity, the more we come to the culture of Silicon Valley where you [set up] a startup and, if it doesn't work out, you get a fantastic job at Google or Facebook," he said.
"Here too often entrepreneurs feel alone and they're not sure what's going to happen to them if [their startup] doesn't work out. By having a fantastic, vibrant community you make it easier and safer for people to do a startup.
"That mixing and matching and vibrant culture doesn't happen in isolation, it happens with the paid attention and focus on building a platform where a community can come together."
IBM is not alone in supporting startups in London. Microsoft's Ventures startup accelerator has helped propel several technology businesses into the limelight for potential growth-stage investment.
Collaboration between University College London, DC Thomson and Cisco has seen the creation of Idea London which nurtures early-stage startups.
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