Digital Shoreditch, a celebration of the creative, entrepreneurial, and technological talent in East London's Tech City, kicked off this morning at Shoreditch Town Hall with an opening keynote from Hackney councillor Guy Nicholson.
Nicholson delivered his remarks in the venue's main assembly hall, which was colourfully decked out and resembled the main stage of a music festival more than it did a traditional tech conference. Focusing on the future of Tech City, Nicholson said that the rapid development of the technology sector represented the biggest economic change in the UK since the rise of industry in the 1700s.
"We are in the process of seeing a new economy emerge – an economy which, if one really does look quite hard at it, is the economy of tomorrow, as we move out of an industrial era and into a tech era," he commented.
According to the Labour counsellor, the government's role is to ensure that London's tech economy has the support it needs to continue to grow. He pointed to the tax exemptions enjoyed by startups and the £50 million government investment in Tech City as examples of how local authorities "can be the tool for all of us, to enable all of us."
It follows that the successes of East London's vibrant tech community are beginning to create a ripple effect for the area as a whole, with education in particular standing to benefit from an increased demand for skills - initiatives like the Google and Seatwave-backed Dev Camp for youngsters last summer immediately sprung to mind.
"This economy brings with it some great, great opportunities....opportunities not just for the few, but for the many," Nicholson noted.
He continued: "This idea of for the many and not just for the few: yes, of course we all wish to profit from our endeavours. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But how is it we reinvest that profit back into our endeavours?"
Going forward, Nicholson spoke of the importance of uniting London's Silicon Roundabout hub with other key tech spaces across the UK - like those found in Newcastle-Gateshead, Manchester, and Bristol. He also spoke of collaboration on a global scale, citing Austin, Brooklyn, Barcelona and Bordeaux as examples of creative communities that shared Tech City's vision.
"We can create the most extraordinary opportunities...The East End is a place of innovation - it always has been," Nicholson added.
Digital Shoreditch is set to run until 31 May and features more than 500 workshops and 20 interactive rooms, as well as a host of networking opportunities. Follow the link to find out more, or simply stay tuned - we'll be bringing you more great developments from Shoreditch Town Hall shortly.