Why our capital is the world's greatest start-up city

Why our capital is the world's greatest start-up city

London can not only be described as the beating heart of the UK’s start-up scene but, arguably, the entire world. In 2015, London’s tech start-ups alone received venture capital funding of more than £2.3 billion; two-thirds more than the previous year.

With a world-class pool of entrepreneurial talent and a vibrant, innovative working culture, London is helping New and Growing Companies go from strength to strength.

Let’s take a look at some of the many exciting ways in which our capital is supporting the growth development of business start-ups and entrepreneurs, blazing a trail for the world’s many other innovative cities.

Advocacy as an innovation hub

All business start-ups are required to invest considerable resources in building their reputation and industry networks. Grabbing the attention of much-needed investors or potential customers can be quite a hurdle to overcome without an established brand. That’s why London makes a conscious effort to promote innovation and entrepreneurship - nurturing the next generation of start-ups.

For instance, the London Innovation Hub works with early-stage companies to progress them through the initial survival stages all the way through to a period of business maturity. At Workspace, we partner with Informed Funding and Knowledge Peers to provide insightful business seminars, workshops and discussions that not only shine a spotlight on London’s plentiful start-up innovators but provide inspiration to those seeking to emulate their success.

Our most recent Business Insights Event, ‘Business by Design’, brought together a handful of successful designers to discuss how they made their passion for design into a profitable business model.

Facilitating tech innovation

Within the new European Digital City index (EDCi), launched by Nesta as part of the European Digital Forum, London was regarded as the best European city for supporting digital innovation with entrepreneurs launching start-ups and growing scale-ups. As a means of indexing the strengths and weaknesses of local ecosystems, the EDCi demonstrates London’s desire to become a global tech leader in the face of significant population growth.

The city’s Smart London Plan, is geared to harnessing London’s technical prowess to help the capital work even better amid significant population growth. Home to world-leading academic institutions and notably the ‘Tech City’ cluster around Old Street, London is able to call upon some of the world’s specialist tech talent to develop a next-generation infrastructure – built on data science – to improve services.

In order to achieve these targets, London must continue to nurture new enterprise, jobs and inward investment. Research from London & Partners indicated the capital’s East London tech hub brought £18bn into the local economy in 2015; and London’s digital technology sector has increased by 46 per cent since the launch of Tech City some five years ago. London Technology Week 2016 – which arrived this week – is yet another fantastic initiative, designed to arm the tech stars of today and the future with the skills they need to boost connectivity across the capital.

Digitally and physically connected

The evolution of working practices, particularly among entrepreneurs, is such that business activity no longer belongs in the office only. The changing world of working means connectivity for New and Growing Companies in London has never been more essential. Whether it’s scanning the email inbox in a coffee shop, hosting a conference call on a train or submitting a post on your social media feeds on holiday; with the lines of digital and physical connectivity becoming somewhat distorted, finding innovative ways to ensure both digital and physical connectivity work is crucial to the long-term future of London’s NGCs.

There is a burning desire within the capital for London to become the best connected city in Europe. Ofcom estimates that almost nine-tenths (89 per cent) of the city can obtain superfast fibre broadband, but only 25 per cent opt for the faster links. At Workspace, all our customers receive super-fast fibre optic broadband as standard across our network of 70 London business locations, without any speed restrictions; as well as high-speed Wi-Fi in all Workspace and Club Workspace locations. There are also many examples of London boroughs and broadband providers actively working together to improve connectivity across the city as a whole.

London’s physical connectivity is equally important to maintaining its start-up ecosystem. Urban centres require a fluid, integrated public transport network, allowing busy entrepreneurs to move freely across town to build relationships and contacts.

Transport for London (TfL) is working hard to analyse the quality of London’s transport infrastructure and services. Using three different types of connectivity assessment - the Public Transport Access Level (PTAL) measure, travel time mapping and catchment analysis – TfL can more accurately assess an area’s public transport access, the frequency of services to a particular area and how long it takes to travel from a particular area to other parts of the capital.

Use of space to provide high-growth opportunities

As part of its exploration into the world’s top-performing business cities, The CITIE organisation noted a trend that many businesses are moving from business parks in suburban out-of-town locations to more centrally located districts, in and around where people live, work and interact.

The real challenge for business space providers, particularly in London, is to be able to adapt to the fast-changing requirements of New and Growing Companies. A combination of collaborative co-working environments for entrepreneurs to get early-stage business ventures up and running; access to flexible office space which can scale up or down; and a network that brings stakeholders and opportunities together fosters an ecosystem that best supports London’s entrepreneurial talent.

By challenging the status quo of the entrepreneurial ecosystem, London can work harder to stimulate innovation among NGCs and compete on a global stage.

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