Good connectivity is the “lifeblood” of start-ups, say industry experts

London is world-beating hub of tech talent, business expertise and entrepreneurship

At an event hosted by Virgin Media Business in East London’s Tech City this morning, a panel business leaders and entrepreneurs called for improved connectivity across the UK to transform and support the country’s burgeoning SME sector.

Small businesses need better digital infrastructure and technical talent if they are to fulfil their potential to turn UK PLC into a world-beating tech hub, a heavyweight panel of business leaders heard today (Tuesday 3rd February 2015).

Tech City CEO, Gerard Grech, Managing Director of Virgin Media Business, Peter Kelly, and the founder and CEO of peer-to-peer lender Ratesetter, Rhydian Lewis, called for improved connectivity across the UK to transform and support the country’s burgeoning SME sector.

The chair of a panel discussion in the heart of East London’s Tech City, Emma Jones MBE emphasised that “London is undoubtedly the EU capital for technology and digital activity”, highlighting the importance that hiring the right people and improving digital skills plays in small business success.

The founder of the campaign group Enterprise Nation also said that access to finance, manageable taxation and talent were key factors in success.

Today’s discussion in the heart of Tech City coincides with Virgin Media Business now taking orders for its new technology trial, set to improve the connectivity of Britain’s technology hub by making it faster, cheaper and more reliable for small businesses to get online.

Peter Kelly, Managing Director, Virgin Media Business, said:

“Good connectivity is the lifeblood for small businesses and we know that it hasn’t been great; not just in Tech City but across the UK.

“We wanted to shake things up in Tech City, where the Silicon Roundabout is giving Silicon Valley a run for its money, by providing start-ups and SMEs with the fast, bespoke connectivity they need.

“This project builds on the small business products we launched in September, which are some of the fastest on the market.  It’s part of our continuing commitment to British SMEs.”

“Small businesses are the beating heart of our economy and we’re proud to be the power behind improved technology in Tech City; the centre for innovation and entrepreneurship in UK PLC.”

Rhydian Lewis, founder and CEO of Ratesetter said that the UK has become too risk averse when it comes to investment:

“People in the UK and EU are incredibly careful with their money. It’s all about conserve, conserve, conserve.

“The tech boom of the 90s has left a massive scar on the City. Americans, on the other hand, are all about invest, invest, invest. American venture capitalists are rampant. In the UK, money managers badly burned in the early 90s and are still far-too-hesitant to invest in early-stage businesses.”

TechCity UK

TechCity UK, the lobbying group representing SMEs across the UK, have highlighted four issues facing businesses in the Shoreditch area:

  1. Speed
  2. Price
  3. Reliability
  4. Lead times

The new proposition is aimed at:

  • Offices with 2 or more businesses with 1 – 249 employees
  • Hard/expensive to service environments
  • Digitally deprived businesses with a latent digital potential

Its key features are:

  • Performance – Super fast speeds, uncontended with symmetrical upload/download speeds
  • Service – Business grade reliability & short lead times
  • Support – Flexible contracts & great value services

The solution will bring multiple benefits:

  • Dedicated fibre connectivity
  • Costs up to 50% lower than existing dedicated connections
  • Speeds over 6 times faster, increasing from around 8MB to at least 50MB, both up and downstream
  • Unlimited usage
  • Enhanced, business-grade reliability
  • 24-month contracts with flexibility after 12 months

The pilot project is expected to be available to at least 2,000 businesses, with additional development in the coming months bringing it within the reach of a further 6,000 businesses.

The pilot area covers Tech City and will run until 31st March 2015, and will apply to those premises that house between two or more businesses, with one to 249 employees.

For more information, go to