UCL News


Prime Minister officially opens IDEALondon centre in Tech City

6 December 2013

Prime Minister David Cameron officially opened IDEALondon - an initiative between Cisco, DC Thomson and UCL - today.

The Prime Minister opens IDEALondon  

Speaking at the centre - the first of its kind in Tech City which aims to nurture and grow both new and existing early-stage start-ups in the area - the Prime Minister outlined how the strengths of the respective partners would accelerate growth in Tech City which, in turn, would benefit the country. 

The partnership behind the centre - the Innovation and Digital Enterprise Alliance (IDEA) - is a collaboration between Cisco, DC Thomson and UCL and will support the growth of rapidly expanding digital, tech and media start-ups in and around Tech City in London's Shoreditch. IDEALondon provides bespoke support, tailored to individual start-ups, with mentoring and a strategic acceleration programme.  It will initially house around fifteen companies and around one hundred entrepreneurs and staff.

Those housed in the facility have been chosen by the partners through different routes: Cisco through its British Innovation Gateway programme (BIG) has granted space to the most promising digital and tech start-ups it has discovered and UCL Advances - UCL's centre for entrepreneurship and business interaction - will select the best and brightest of UCL's digital entrepreneurs for intensive support to enhance their growth.

Leading media organisation DC Thomson will focus on supporting start-ups working in digital content creation, advertising technologies, ecommerce, educational technologies and analytics.  The company has recently welcomed its first two start-ups at IDEALondon and will provide mentorship and guidance on commercialising and scaling business propositions.   As well as providing space for start-ups, IDEALondon will host UCL researchers working at the forefront of digital innovation to develop new products and services to take to market.  The centre is much more than a workspace; it provides dedicated business expertise, access to a structured programme of support and collaboration on technology challenges.

In addition, IDEALondon will host the UCL DECIDE project, in collaboration with UCL, DC Thomson and the BBC in what is intended to be the world's largest 'living lab' for digital and media projects. It will see the university utilise its staff and student body of 30,000 as a closed community for testing and evaluating digital products in pre-commercial development.

IDEALondon is open to any start-up that feels they could benefit from working closely with Cisco, DC Thomson and UCL. All the start-ups that are accepted into IDEALondon will be championed by one of the partner organisations.

The three partners in the centre will also offer a comprehensive programme giving access to consultancy, mentoring and funding, as well as other opportunities for training and business support, through UCL's centre for entrepreneurship, UCL Advances.

Phil Smith, CEO of Cisco UK and Ireland, said:

"At Cisco we say amazing things happen when we connect the previously unconnected. IDEALondon is a vital element of the Cisco British Innovation Gateway created to nurture nationwide ingenuity and growth through entrepreneurship. The brilliant blend of UCL, DC Thomson and Cisco means startups can be more connected, skilled and ambitious than ever before."

 Richard Hall, Director, DC Thomson, said:

"The IDEALondon facility realises DC Thomson's ambition to support new business and the facility is the perfect incubator for start-ups.  The facility provides our start-ups with the opportunity to enjoy a tech city location whilst simultaneously giving them the opportunity to work with an established media organisation.  We offer access to experienced business mentors and support from our Group companies and wider business network."

Professor Stephen Caddick, Vice-Provost for Enterprise at UCL and a member of the Government's Tech City Advisory Group, said:

"IDEALondon will ensure the future growth and prosperity of start-ups across the area by giving them access to all the opportunities working with a world-leading university can provide - access to advanced lab facilities, computer scientists and a closed community market research programme - right on their doorstep."

This is the second incubator programme that DC Thomson has established for start-up businesses.  IDEAL's sister programme IDEAS, based in Dundee, is a partnership between brightsolid online technology, DC Thomson and the universities of Abertay and Dundee offering help to start-up digital economy entrepreneurs. 

Image credit: UCL Advances