Tech City Launchpad -- A New Investment to Support Creative and Digital Businesses in East London

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The community of creative and digital businesses in the Tech City area around Old Street and Shoreditch in east London are to benefit from £1 million support from the Technology Strategy Board. Companies will have the opportunity to apply for funding of up to £100,000 for their projects through a competition designed to support and extend the existing east London tech community. The Technology Strategy Board will also help them to find the match funding they need to deliver their ideas.

The community of creative and digital businesses in the Tech City area around Old Street and Shoreditch in east London are to benefit from £1 million support from the Technology Strategy Board. Companies will have the opportunity to apply for funding of up to £100,000 for their projects through a competition designed to support and extend the existing east London tech community. The Technology Strategy Board will also help them to find the match funding they need to deliver their ideas.

The Technology Strategy Board will work closely with UK Trade & Investment, the government department tasked with bringing new talent, entrepreneurs and investment to east London.

Today’s initiative will be announced by Universities and Science Minister David Willetts, while visiting TechHub in east London. The Minister said:

“It is important that we nurture clusters such as the one that has grown up in this area. They are the crucibles where new industries are born, where communities support one another and where companies grow to become globally competitive. This initiative, with strong community involvement and including coordinated help to enable the companies to move fast towards commercialisation, is exactly what clusters need.”

The Tech City Launchpad competition for funding, which opens on 6 May 2011, will be open both to companies in the Tech City cluster around Old Street and Shoreditch in east London and to companies outside the area, though the goal is that the work should take place predominantly in the cluster area.

Elizabeth Varley, Co-founder and CEO of TechHub, a space that brings together the technology community, said:

“This initiative is ideal for small and micro companies and start-ups in the Tech City cluster, which often struggle for capital or easy access to finance. That successful applicants will be supported in attracting match funding is an important part of this project. By being the first to show their financial support for these successful companies, the Technology Strategy Board will be making it much easier for businesses to secure co-funding either from new business partners or from angel or venture capital investors. To give companies this commitment to helping their talent and hard work come to fruition creates an exciting new model for public-private funding.”

Explaining the purpose of the investment, Iain Gray, the Technology Strategy Board’s Chief Executive, said:

“Companies in the digital economy and the creative sector are different from those in manufacturing. They are less capital-intensive, tend to be small or micro companies and often form tight geographical clusters. This unique competition is designed specifically to promote the community dynamic within these vibrant clusters, encourage cooperation and, ultimately, grow business in the area for the benefit of the UK economy.”

The competition opens for two-minute video submissions on 6 May 2011. Using both community and expert assessment to prioritise the proposals, about 20 project applications will be invited to submit written proposals. Ten will then be selected and offered up to £100,000 funding each. More information about how to apply is available from the Technology Strategy Board website, http://www.innovateuk.org

The offer of funding can then be used as a catalyst to attract match funding and the Technology Strategy Board will help approved projects gain the remaining 50% funding through a funding workshop involving key potential investors such as business angels, venture capitalists and other companies in the digital and creative industries. The successful companies will also have twelve months to secure the match funding they require.

If successful the initiative may be rolled out to clusters in other parts of the UK, and to other sectors.

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Nick Sheppard
Technology Strategy Board
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