Creativity, the digital economy and Digital Shoreditch
Times are hard, and the outlook is bleak. That’s what we keep reading about, and it’s hard to turn on the TV or glance at a news site without seeing some new crisis rocking the world economy. Just today, the focus has moved from Greece to Spain, knocking European shares sharply downwards.
It seems that what propelled the UK economy for a good part of the last quarter-century was the relentless growth of financial services, debt and rising house prices. All three now seem to be pointing downwards.
Yet, the good news is out there. And it’s not that hard to find. An “old economy” piece of good news from yesterday is the salvation of the GM Vauxhall plant in Ellesmere Port in a relatively deprived part of north-west England.
And, from the US, the biggest business story of this year is surely the giant, bumper, mega-IPO of Facebook. We’ve all seen the “Social Network” and no doubt have our own views of the Zuck, and how sustainable Facebook’s explosive growth can be.
Yet, just as theVauxhall plant sustains a network of suppliers, with a ripple effect throughout the local area, right down to sandwich shops, pubs and babysitters, so Facebook has evolved its own dynamic ecosystem – just look at Zynga, floating for billions last year off the back of games developed for Facebook users.
Increasingly, we all want to talk about ecosystems. What feeds their growth? How can we sustain them? How do we kickstart a virtuous circle where success encourages other young businesses to locate themselves in an area?
Right now, we’re seeing many pieces of this process taking place in Shoreditch. Companies like Mindcandy, creators of the HUGE hit Moshi Monsters, prove that digital innovation can happen anywhere, as long as the right combination of talent, finance and attitude exists. And, basically, right here, currently, something very special is happening in Shoreditch.
Hence the Digital Shoreditch festival, which kicks off on Monday. Just have a look at some of the 300+ speakers signed up so far: Click Here
Kam Star, founder of the Digital Shoreditch festival, is proud to have played a critical role in creating the festival that he feels embodies the spirit of Shoreditch during a crucial stage in its evolution from slightly grungey part of London to global digital and creative hub.
Shoreditch’s location historically has been one of its greatest assets – although way back
in the day it was actually called ‘Sewer ditch’, by the 16th Century it sported London’s first permanent public theatre with William Shakespeare’s first plays performed in the area. By the 18th century the area was at the very cutting edge of textile design and then played a leading role in print – the natural continuation of which is the design and creative industries we have today. But any thriving community needs more than good ideas, so being on the very edge of the City of London is crucial to continued development of the area.
“Just think about it. All the elements for a successful creative and business hub have been here for so long – the City, managing vast sums of capital, London as a world-leading centre for media, advertising, fashion, design. But what’s different now is how innovation happens – things move so quickly, and proximity plays a crucial role.”
It’s this community spirit which makes Shoreditch an exciting place to be. As Kam says:
“I can be walking down the street, or at a networking hangout, and you’ve got people who are at every stage of setting up companies which are competing on a global level. Many of the companies you will see at this year’s festival won’t be known to you yet, but I want to help foster local businesses and give them a platform. Look at what SXSW did for Twitter and Foursquare in giving them a global springboard.”
Kam pulls no punches about his ambitions – which is to make Digital Shoreditch as big and important to digital businesses as SXSW currently is. Not to supplant the Austin, TX- based event, but to provide an event in London which brings together creativity, design expertise, technical ability and that essential “spark” or “spirit” which successful places have and which is hard to put your finger on.
“Come along during the next fortnight, and you’ll smell it in the air. It’s the future, and it’s happening right here on our doorstep in Shoreditch.”
Join us at Digital Shoreditch 2012 here