Digital Businesses in East London Hotspot to Benefit from Additional £1 Million Government Investment for Pilot Innovation Initiative

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Innovative and creative digital businesses based in East London are to benefit as funding for a pilot innovation initiative designed to encourage collaboration in the area doubles. The Technology Strategy Board (http://www.innovateuk.org) has decided to increase the amount of funding available for the Tech City Launchpad initiative to £2 million, enabling it to provide support in the form of £100,000 grants to twice as many companies.

Innovative and creative digital businesses based in East London are to benefit as funding for a pilot innovation initiative designed to encourage collaboration in the area doubles. The Technology Strategy Board (http://www.innovateuk.org) has decided to increase the amount of funding available for the Tech City Launchpad initiative to £2 million, enabling it to provide support in the form of £100,000 grants to twice as many companies.

The new funding has been made available due to the excellent calibre of investment-worthy proposals submitted following the initial announcement of the Tech City Launchpad in April. The initiative attracted around 200 ideas and the companies that submit the best 20 detailed proposals will have the opportunity to bring their ideas to life, and grow their businesses, due to the financial support and backing of the Technology Strategy Board.

Announcing the increased funding today, Universities and Science Minister David Willetts said:

“The Tech City Launchpad competition has already been a great success and the additional funding will enable us to double the number of small and micro companies and start-ups we are supporting. The competition makes the most of the cluster of high tech companies in London, enabling those selected to go further and faster and transform their ideas into commercial reality.”

Focussed initially on companies in Tech City, the area around Old Street and Shoreditch in East London, the Launchpad competition aims to stimulate this hotspot of digital and creative industries by enabling companies to go further and faster towards commercial success. The area is home to more than 250 digital, creative and high-tech companies today and is Europe’s fastest growing technology hub; the funding will help draw investment and talent into the area and encourage networking and collaboration to strengthen the cluster. If the Tech City Launchpad programme is successful, it will be rolled out nationally to help stimulate the growth and success of UK small businesses.

Eric Van Der Kleij, CEO of Tech City Investment Organisation, said:
“The fact that the Technology Strategy Board has chosen to run the pilot of their Launchpad competition in Tech City is a testament to the immense pool of creative, tech-savvy entrepreneurs in the area. The competition is yet another proof point to show that the Government is committed to the success of Tech City, and to reigniting a culture of entrepreneurialism in the UK.”

When the Tech City Launchpad competition was launched in April 2011 by Universities and Science Minister David Willetts, £1 million of Technology Strategy Board funding was made available and ten project applications were to be offered up to £100,000 each. With £2 million now available, the number of projects to receive funding will double to twenty.

Around 200 exciting and innovative ideas were submitted in the first round of the competition, when businesses were asked to submit two-minute videos. The entries are a showcase for the talent, imagination and excellence of the cluster of digital businesses in Tech City and are available for the public and potential investors to view online at _connect, the Technology Strategy Board’s networking and knowledge-sharing platform. To see some of the submissions, please visit: https://ktn.innovateuk.org/web/tech-city-launchpad-1/our-group

Over forty of the applicants who were successful in the first round of the competition have been invited to submit written proposals over the next two weeks. Following detailed, expert assessment, twenty of these will be offered (up to a maximum of) £100,000 funding – and Technology Strategy Board help to find the match funding they need to deliver their ideas.

The offer of government funding will be used as a catalyst to attract match funding. The Technology Strategy Board will help approved projects gain the remaining 50% funding (up to £100,000) through a workshop involving potential investors such as business angels, venture capitalists and other companies in the digital and creative industries. The funding workshop is planned for 11 August.

Iain Gray, Chief Executive at the Technology Strategy Board, said:
“By showing our faith and commitment to the successful companies through substantial financial support, we hope to make it easier for the businesses to secure the co-funding they need to help bring their ideas to life. This unique competition is designed specifically to support growing companies in the digital economy and the creative sector, which are less capital-intensive than those in manufacturing.”

Details of the twenty successful applications, and further information about the funding workshop, will be announced in early August.

Tech City, announced last year by Prime Minister David Cameron, is part of a broader initiative to transform East London and 2012 Olympic Games venues into a centre for high-tech growth and innovation. The Tech City Investment Organisation is part of UK Trade & Investment, and works to support the development of the digital and technology industries in East London by supporting business growth, fostering domestic and international investment and encouraging infrastructure development in the area.

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Nick Sheppard
Technology Strategy Board
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