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£1m London tech startup competition ditched

26 March 2014  |  4260 views  |  4 Dead end

A high-profile technology startup competition backed by London mayor Boris Johnson and promising a £1 million equity investment to the winner has been shelved.

Launched last summer, the Million Pound Startup competition was designed to promote London as a tech hub, offering young firms from around the world the chance of a £1 million equity investment as well as legal, consulting and PR support if they moved to London.

Among the wheezes used to build hype, organiser Digital Shoreditch promised reporters the chance of a one per cent share in the equity investment for writing about the competition.

Yet, despite attracting more than 1000 applications from over 70 countries which were then whittled down to a final 20 in September, the competition was shelved, according to the Guardian.

The orgnaisers decided that none of the finalists were suitable and in October the £433,000 raised from around 200 investors was returned.

There are no plans to rerun the competition and the Million Pound Startup Web site has disappeared.

Meanwhile, the Digital Shoreditch Festival 2014 - designed to showcase the capital's tech scene - has been cancelled just two days before it was set to begin on 27 March.

In a notice on its Web site, Digital Shoreditch says that "after 3 years of Digital Shoreditch, it seems that its time for us to focus our attention onto bringing new perspectives into the mix. To refresh. To ensure we're super relevant. We want to create completely new types of events and competitions.

However, according to the Guardian, the event, being eagerly promoted just a fortnight ago, is shutting down  partly because of a lack of resources.

Comments: (4)

Alexander Peschkoff
Alexander Peschkoff - TEDIPAY - London | 26 March, 2014, 10:24

There is little "V" in the UK VC industry, compared to even Berlin, let alone key US hubs (SF, NY, Boulder). Most of the investments are copycats of the US success stories or niche solutions, truly game-changing startups are few and far between.

There are many reasons for that, and no immediate/obvious fix (short of making mass exodus to the US).

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Cristian Vlad
Cristian Vlad - Consult Services Ltd - London | 26 March, 2014, 12:10

I can re-start it for London. It just needs a proper process and the right sponsors.  

With a good business case, plan, marketing campaign, and partners, it can bring tens of millions in investment.

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Alexander Peschkoff
Alexander Peschkoff - TEDIPAY - London | 26 March, 2014, 12:32

It's about the culture/mentality, not money... For example, failure carries a stigma in the UK; in the US failure means valuable experience.

Also, US startups are much more likely to be acquired by large (US-based) companies. In the UK, you need to be in the DeepMind category (unique skills and technology) to be an attractive target for overseas corporations.

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Andrew White
Andrew White - FundApps - London | 27 March, 2014, 11:53

Completely disagree Alexander. There is a good bit of "V" going round (admittedly not as much as the US) as are there a number of game-changing start-ups, particularly FinTech.

Ditto the mentality, I know of very few people in London that believe that failure = stigma. I work with a number of people who are on their 3rd or 4th start-up.

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