Microsoft opens London venue to help UK remain tech leader

Microsoft opens London venue to help UK remain tech leader
The Reactor will give startups access to partners, customers and products

Elly Yates-Roberts |

Microsoft has opened a US$20 million venue in London to help the UK remain the home of technology innovation in Europe.

Based in Shoreditch, London, The Reactor will be used to give startups access to Microsoft partners, customers and products.

“The Reactor is a US$20 million investment by Microsoft over the next 10 years,” said Cindy Rose, chief executive at Microsoft UK, in her opening speech at the launch event. “It’s a reflection of the enduring commitment to the UK as a destination for digital innovation, and the importance that we place on nurturing and developing startup talent in the UK, which we know is Europe’s hotspot for technology innovation.

“This space is specially designed and located in the heart of Shoreditch to help us connect better with the technology startup and scale-up community, offer access to Microsoft’s technology, platform and tools, and connect [businesses] with our enterprise customers and partners.”

The UK Reactor will host regular events such as hackathons, talks, meetups and more for up to 120 people. It is Microsoft’s first such space in Europe, after similar hubs were opened in New York, Redmond and San Francisco. Further Reactors are planned for elsewhere in Europe and Sydney, Australia.

Warwick Hill, CEO of Microsoft Accelerator, said the hub was well-placed to support the next generation of successful companies as Microsoft has so far helped 734 new firms across the world to gain £3.2 billion in funding.

“We want to bring in the schools of tomorrow, the entrepreneurs of tomorrow and the agile thinkers of tomorrow, and make sure that girls and young women, in particular, see technology as a viable career path for them,” he said.

During the launch, Rose revealed that Microsoft will sign up to the Tech Talent Charter, a government-supported, industry-led initiative that requires signatories to develop an inclusive and diverse workforce.

“Microsoft is an excellent corporate citizen and you’re doing so much for startups,” said Margot James MP, minister for digital and the creative industries. “To know you are backing the Charter is just brilliant. Thank you very much.

“We have a specific problem [with the number of women] in the technology sector, because in general you need science qualifications and girls are attracted to science A-Levels in far lower numbers than boys,” James continued. “We have to change that, but there’s no quick fix. The Charter is designed to get girls to look favourably on careers in technology and have the confidence to go for it, as well as boosting digital awareness in schools in ways that girls will be attracted to.”

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