Industry-backed Silicon Valley Bank opens in London

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Will it boost innovation?

Silicon Valley Bank has opened its doors for the first time in London, with a view to serve both local and international businesses, so it says on the tin.

While banks aren’t exactly the most popular institutions in the UK, or indeed Europe, at the moment, this tailored bank insists it will prop up and encourage innovation in the UK and become a vital part of the ecosystem.

In a statement, George Osborne, chancellor of the exchequer, said the launch is “proof” that the UK is “fast becoming the technology centre of Europe”.

Beyond silicon roundabout and its culture of success-hungry start-ups and the VCs they aim to seduce, top companies such as Cisco, Google, Intel and many others have all lent support to the technology industry in the United Kingdom. Whether the technology industry pulls Britain out of the gutter is another question, but an enthusiasm, according to carefully crafted statements to the press, is certainly visible.

Silicon Valley Bank’s UK section outright claims to be a gamechanger, with its website declaring: “We change the rules of the game for you. Go on. Test us.”

Its first UK branch is located just around the corner from the Bank of England, in the City, on Lothbury Street. The bank already has some impressive clients on its roster, including Cisco, Mindspeed, Shazam, Mozilla, and Pinterest.

Greg Becker, CEO and President, said that the bank’s opening signifies a “significant step in the evolution of the technology sector in the UK, at a time when there is strong government support for a thriving community of local innovation businesses”.

At a time when many budding entrepreneurs are claiming that banks just aren’t lending enough, it could prove to be a swinging point for a certain section of industry.

Phil Cox, heading up the UK division, claimed that the bank is “unique” to the UK. Because it is specialised in one sector, Cox believes that the branch will provide “fast-paced” service from consultants with deep expertise, dedication to innovation, and an “unrivalled” network of contacts around the world.

Although SVB has had a presence in the UK – working with Shazam, for example – this will be the first branch launch.

Cisco UK and Ireland’s CEO, Phil Smith, brought up some interesting contrasts at a time when the country is entrenched in debt and the world faces a debt crisis unheard of for decades.

“The UK has a strong innovation ecosystem with a long tradition that stretches right back to the industrial revolution,” he said. “It is a world leader in innovation that ranks second only to the USA”.

VCs, start-ups, entrepreneurs, government, and some residents of London will undoubtedly welcome the bank with open arms.

They claim it will boost innovation – and it very well may – but whether it will have that intended ‘trickle down effect’ on wealth for the rest of the country, or even the capital, is still an open question.


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