May 14, 2015

Unity and The Flat White Economy

Unity was invited to attend the recent London Book Fair – and it was great to meet so many fantastically talented and passionate people in the publishing industry.

We have great experience across publishing and culture, working on campaigns for Hodder & Stoughton, Taschen, Random House and on last year’s Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction. But it was a chance meeting with Duckworth Publishers that was a real highlight of the fair.

The publisher has recently released a new book called The Flat White Economy, which immediately piqued the interest of the Unity team. We have recently completed a major research piece for Lucozade Energy about the rise of entrepreneurship among young people – more on that here – so we jumped at the chance to learn more about London’s incredible tech scene.

Written by Douglas McWilliams, head of the Centre for Economic and Business Reseach, The Flat White Economy (mostly digital, tech, and online marketing industries) is about much more than our start-up culture and technology. It’s really a book about people, place and what the future of our capital might bring.

The Flat White Economy

The book tells the story of how Old Street became the epicentre for Europe’s technological revolution. It makes the case for our start-up entrepreneurial culture being key to our economic recovery.

The bigger story is told through some impressive statistics. Did you realize that in the past two-years 32,000 business have been registered in EC1 district? Or that the Flat White Economy accounted for 7.6% of GDP in 2012? And this percentage is predicted to rise to 15.8% in 2025?

McWilliams paints a picture about the behaviours of the Flat White economy. They get around our high property costs by living out of a suitcase, they ride bikes (fixed gear, obviously), and their only extravagances are high-tech IT kit. An interesting parallel is drawn between the flash purchases of city boys in the 1980s (sports cars and champagne) and today’s tech entrepreneurs (bikes and flat whites).

A powerful case is also made for London’s global perspective and ease with immigration as a driver for this new economy. Our capital has become a magnet for immigrants (many ambitious and tech savvy) from around Europe. Helping to make East London a world-leader.

Old Street

It’s not all positive news though. Why hasn’t London produced an internationally renowned major online brand (a Google, Facebook or Twitter say?) And how many of these 32,000 start-ups will provide long-lasting jobs? The book touches on these points, but doesn’t have all the answers.

But what is clear is that we should be proud of East London’s unique innovation and entrepreneurial spirit. Unity is based in Clerkenwell, just down the road from this hotbed of ideas – we love working with some of the world’s brightest tech minds. We highly recommend reading this book if you want to know the “why” behind this new economic paradigm. One to enjoy with your next Flat White Coffee!