UCL News


Prime Minister announces innovation centre in Shoreditch

6 December 2012

Prime Minister David Cameron today announced IDEALondon in London’s Tech City, an innovation ‘hot-house’ established by UCL and partners Cisco and DC Thomson as the Innovation and Digital Enterprise Alliance (IDEA).

IDEALondon aims to support the growth of digital and media companies, in particular the most promising start-ups which have come to characterise the area known as Tech City. It is anticipated the facility will host around 25 digital and media companies which, it is hoped, will collectively employ around 100 people in TechCity, in addition to staff working in other locations across the country.

Silicon rounabout in Tech City, East London

The facility – a unique alliance between a world-leading research institution, a world-class information technology provider and an international media company – delivers on the partners’ commitments to support Tech City. It represents over £3.5m of investment by the three partners over the first three years of operation, with additional investment in individual businesses.

Unlike typical business incubators and accelerators, IDEALondon will support companies who will be championed by one of the key partners. IDEA will develop services to support and grow start-ups in the digital and media sectors which are clustered in the Shoreditch area, with each partner bringing their own strengths, existing relationships and expertise to the project.

IDEALondon will offer access to consultancy and mentoring programmes, as well as other opportunities for training and business support including through UCL’s centre for entrepreneurship, UCL Advances. In addition, UCL researchers will work from IDEAL, drawing on UCL’s existing world-leading research excellence to develop innovative new digital products and services.

It will also be a significant addition to the Cisco UK National Virtual Incubator (NVI) network which aims to stimulate entrepreneurship by connecting leading innovation locations across the UK together using Cisco’s world-leading collaboration technologies.

IDEALondon will be closely linked to a second centre that DC Thomson will establish in Dundee to support the formation and acceleration of start-ups in the digital industry, including the existing video games cluster that is located there.

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 and which 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. The project is part-funded by the European Union through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Speaking in advance of the announcement, Prime Minister David Cameron said:

"This Government backs aspiration and innovation and has long recognised the potential of a world-leading technology cluster in London as a source of long-term growth for our economy.

"The presence of a globally renowned research university, together with a technology giant and a leading global publishing firm will further boost Tech City and will help us compete and thrive in the global race."

Prime Minister David Cameron

"The presence of a globally renowned research university, together with a technology giant and a leading global publishing firm will further boost Tech City and will help us compete and thrive in the global race."

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

“The tech community has said Tech City needs a firm commitment from a world-leading university to provide an academic heartbeat – providing research to exploit, education in business skills and a supply of talent in the form of highly education graduates – and UCL provides all three.”

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

“We are delighted to be partnering with University College London and DC Thomson to open the new IDEALondon facility in Shoreditch. With the area fast becoming a hub for talented digital, technology and media businesses, creating an innovation centre in Tech City is a key element of Cisco’s British Innovation Gateway programme. It is great to be providing the thriving community with a facility which brings together the strength and expertise from an alliance of renowned leaders in these industries.

“We are delighted to welcome IDEALondon to our National Virtual Incubator (NVI) which is integral to our ‘Building a Brilliant Future’ London 2012 legacy, supporting the development of Britain’s innovation ecosystem and creating an environment in which start-up digital businesses and their ideas can flourish.”

“By working together with UCL and DC Thomson, Cisco can support the Government’s objectives to drive economic growth through high-tech innovation and build a brilliant future for British entrepreneurs and the businesses of tomorrow.”

Director of DC Thomson Richard Hall said:

“DC Thomson has a long and successful history of supporting small businesses in reaching their potential.

“IDEALondon represents an exciting opportunity to further promote digital entrepreneurs in the UK, in particular through connectivity with other growing centres of innovation such as Dundee. By working alongside Cisco and UCL, we hope to provide a unique contribution to the TechCity landscape.”

Media Contact: Henry Rummins

Image Caption: Old Street's 'silicon roundabout', in East London's Tech City, courtesy of Torcello Trio on Flickr


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