From world-class fine-dining restaurants to hip night markets selling street food, London has it all. Hospitality is the fourth largest industry in the UK; the nation’s food-service-sector is set to be worth £56.2 billion by 2019. London is a fantastic hub to launch a new food business and also drive real change in the food industry.
The majority-female, international team at YFood has come together over the past two years to build a platform for those driving disruptive change in the food industry, which has been slower to adopt technological developments than others. They have started an annual Food Tech week – the next one is scheduled for autumn – as well as set up mentoring for start-ups and are working with big businesses to drive innovation, such as Just Eat, which has set up an accelerator.
The founders and businesses in the sector are incredibly diverse – there are people from all walks of life, looking at alternative protein sources, tackling food waste and programming real-time restaurant booking apps.
Two of the startups YFood supported were founded by former students: Bump Mark, which has developed a bioreactive expiry label that changes texture when the meat in the packaging has gone off, and bio-bean, which converts coffee waste into biofuel.
In London, “there’s so many cultures co-habiting, innovation happens naturally,” says US-born Head of Commercial Partnerships Athena Simpson. They have sparked interest around the globe, including with the Malaysian minister of finance who wants to create a national food-tech industry.
Do you sell amazing food? If you want to be featured in the night market at Britain’s biggest food festival, register your interest by visiting www.londonfoodmonth.co.uk and emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The London Evening Standard will launch the UK’s biggest food festival in June with a month-long programme of events sponsored by Westfield, Cobra and Fortnum & Mason. It will feature chefs, restaurants, hotels and bars showing off the capital’s food scene. Londoners can head down to the night market to indulge in an outdoor dining experience, which will be held at a London park over 12 evenings.
Maybe food’s got something to do with it but a PwC study last year ranked London the top global city for culture, entertainment, infrastructure, health and general happiness, both on quantifiable factors and the perceptions of high-net-worth individuals from 16 countries.
Its cultural clout is unparalleled, with vibrant multicultural food, media and pop scenes alongside established theatrical, literary and classical music traditions, and all the entrepreneurial opportunities that those delights present. For a major city, it is a very green and liveable place, with 3,000 parks – 47% of its area is green space.
Talk to directors of London businesses about the attractions of the capital, and again and again its diversity and dynamism come up, in expressions like “cosmopolitan”, “vibrancy”, “richness of experience”, “the most international city in the world”. By some counts, more than 300 languages are spoken in London.
Former CEO of Tech City Eric Van der Kleij sees London’s diversity as one of its “superpowers”, citing this as an ever-more important factor when an entrepreneur looks at where they can locate their HQ and best grow their business.
Will Butler-Adams, Managing Director of Brompton Bikes, which has manufactured in London for 30 years, calls the city the home of “mad ideas”.
“Things happen, there are dinners, meetings, networking, politics. In York, where I come from, there are opportunities; in London there are opportunities everywhere you turn.”
Garib Kheder of Lana Fashions, which has made clothes for Mary Katrantzou, Peter Pilotto, Erdem, Richard Nichols and others, testifies to the success of London’s fashion industry as a centre for high-end small-run manufacturing as well as design talent. When he started 15 years ago in Edmonton, there were only two or three factories doing designer work; today there are a few dozen like his in north, east and south London. The clincher is a Made in England label – which customers want to see – to distinguish what they’re buying from what they could find anywhere on the high street.
Chantal Coady OBE, Founder and Creative Director at Workspace customer, Rococo Chocolates, says, “I spent all my adult life in London and I love being in the centre and being able to jump on a bicycle and go to places and meet people… It’s a very vibrant, creative scene and we can be very proud of the standard of everything we have, from food shops to theatre to art to museums to culture. It’s just a fabulous city to be in.”
What do you think makes London so unforgettable? Share your thoughts on social media using the #madeinlondon hashtag and remember to mention @WorkspaceGroup!