31 May London to become the clean tech version of Silicon Valley
The London Sustainable Development Commission (LSDC) is currently drawing up plans to create a clean-tech hub in an area of west London that is currently under-utilised. LSDC advises the London Mayor on the city’s low carbon economy, and is hoping that large green companies from all across Europe and visionary start-up companies will be attracted to the region. Greg Barker, Chair of the LSDC and Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change for the previous Conservative Government stated that the LSDC report strongly recommends the creation of a the largest cluster of clean tech companies outside California, to ensure that London is the most obvious choice for European clean tech entrepreneurs.
Barker commented that over the past five years the east London area has seen a massive increase in start-ups expanding into the area to create what is now called “tech city”-the highest concentration of tech companies outside Silicon Valley, and that they want to create similar opportunities for the clean tech industry in the area. Not wanting to be seen to limit the opportunity, Barker stressed that entrepreneurial green businesses from all across the EU and beyond can grow there, bringing together bright people, innovators and competitive finance.
The green tech sector in the UK is growing faster than many other sectors, and a hub like this in east London would give it a more substantial slice of the global green economy, which is currently worth approximately US$5 trillion. Clean supportive policy is of course key to a world class clean tech hub being realised.
CEO of the Climate Group Mark Kenber reiterated the importance of a robust global deal in Paris this December, stating that such a deal will boost the national growth of the clean tech industry which he said had been a shining light in the British economy in recent years. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth reaffirmed Parliament’s commitment to forging agreement in Paris during her “Speech of the Throne” to mark the start of the new Parliament. UK Secretary of State Amber Rudd followed this by blogging on the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s energy priorities and that an agreement in Paris is in the UK’s interest as it will lower the cost of climate action and open up further opportunities for their low carbon industries.
Secretary Rudd also announced that UK emissions have decreased by 30% on 1990 levels and that they were leading the way in clean tech and innovation, which is creating new jobs and powering their economic recovery.
I really wonder why the current Abbott Federal Government can’t or won’t see the opportunity that is in this UK example. As I have written in a number of previous blogs, a number of Australian states are moving on clean tech opportunities rather than waiting for Government policy to be put in place. Sadly though, as I’ve also written in previous blogs, industry can’t “go it alone” on this because they require Governments to play their part.
Based on the feedback I’ve received on my blogs and the likes and retweets I’ve had on social media, it is crystal clear that many Australians also see the extent of the opportunity that could be available to Australia if the Federal Government played their part (including to house a hub like this one in the UK). Given the proximity of Australia to Asia and the Pacific region (geographically but not in terms of climate change policy it appears), the east London model would be ideally suited to any of the States in Australia that are already moving in that space.
I’m sure that given the opportunity, they would each present very good cases as to why they should be the home of such a hub. Oh well, no doubt our neighbours “across the ditch” in New Zealand can see the opportunity in this and would love the chance to capitalise on it at Australia’s expense, particularly as being an early mover always provides a strategic advantage. The early mover advantage in this case is especially keen given that clean tech is only going to become more important in terms of company profitability, longevity and jobs initially, but ultimately in terms of “playing well with others”. At this stage it appears that the Australian Government would rather “take its bat and ball and go home” rather than attempt to engage however I don’t think most Australians would consider this appropriate or something to be proud of.