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London's Tech City picks first 25 firms for help to grow

LONDON (Reuters) - Tech City, a government-backed body promoting London's technology hub, on Thursday picked a first 25 British-based online businesses, in sectors such as property, fashion and leisure, to receive help to grow into major companies.

It chose firms including travel search engine Skyscanner, property business Zoopla and games company Mind Candy - with its Moshi Monsters brand - to get public and private support with the aim of becoming international companies that could eventually be listed or bought out by Internet giants.

The programme involves the Tech City Investment Organisation, which was set up to attract investment to the "Silicon Roundabout" area on the edge of London's City financial district.

Its "Future Fifty" scheme was launched in April, by finance minister George Osborne and Tech City's chief executive Joanna Shields, to mentor companies and provide business development assistance such as legal advice and accountancy.

A second batch of 25 companies will be announced in December, Shields said.

"The fact that we've got such a great cohort of companies moving through this programme ... is testament to the fact that if you are going to start a business, this is a great place to do it," said Shields, a former head of social media group Facebook's operations in Europe.

The year-long programme will provide press and promotional backing, educational content and specially designed events.

London's technology hub is attracting foreign companies, with Chinese mobile gaming company Rekoo the latest to announce it would open an office in the area.

(Reporting by Li-mei Hoang and Paul Sandle; Editing by Anthony Barker)

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