Croydon Council is aiming to attract more early stage tech startups to South London off the back of a tax relief deal it made with London mayor Boris Johnson.
The deal with City Hall, signed last year and funded by the Croydon Regeneration Fund, allows businesses of all types to waive their business rates if they are moving to or expanding in Croydon town centre. In addition, businesses can get discounted rates on rent and data services, according to Croydon Council. It's understood that roughly 30 businesses have benefited from the deal to date.
However, Croydon Council today announced that it is now specifically aiming to promote the scheme among technology companies. It hopes to attract more than 15 SMEs to the scheme before March 2015. Businesses joining after April 2015 will attract less than the maximum amount, due to the limited availability period.
The largest concentration of tech startups in London is currently found around Old Street's Silicon Roundabout in East London - commonly referred to as the original Tech City.
But Croydon is the only borough in London that is offering free business rates free for a year.
Councillor Toni Letts, Croydon Council’s cabinet member for economic development, said: "Hundreds of new digital, creative and software companies are already based here, drawn to our highly skilled workforce, affordable office space and rapid transport links.
“Tech is the future and our ambition is to make Croydon one of Europe’s key technology hubs. By offering business rate relief, competitive rents, and plans to boost our digital infrastructure we want to create the right environment for startups to succeed and grow. “
Croydon town centre is already home to more than 250 tech businesses and the borough is projected to become the fifth biggest cluster in London by 2017, with companies from as far afield as San Francisco and New York rumoured to be interested in moving to the area.
Jonny Rose, founder of Croydon Tech City, said: "The Croydon tech scene is booming at the moment having seen a 38 percent increase in new tech, digital and creative businesses set up in the area since 2011.
“This boom has been created by a combination of the supportive and dynamic startup ecosystem created by Croydon Tech City and Croydon's unique mix of excellent office space, new business rate relief and solid broadband infrastructure."
Kit Malthouse, deputy mayor of London for business and enterprise, said: “Croydon is an area of London that has huge potential and will change a lot over the next couple of years as we see the impact of improved transport, capital investment and a growth in residents.
"The 100 percent relief in business rates will encourage a variety of small businesses that would not otherwise be able to trade in the area. Helping as many people as possible to be as economically active as possible is another way that the Mayor is striving to make Croydon a jewel in London’s crown.”
In order to qualify for the scheme businesses must have less than 250 employees, have a turnover of less than £40 million per year, have been trading for at least one year and have a minimum year-long lease on a property in Croydon.