Plexal offers tech start-ups a new home in London's Olympic Park

Plexal has just held a "soft launch" for a new tech hub for start-ups in the Olympic Park in London's East End. It plans to be up and running by May 2017.
Written by Jack Schofield, Contributor
​View of the Olympic Park in London with the Here East complex in the foreground.

View of the Olympic Park in London with the Here East complex in the foreground.

Photo: Here East

Five years after the London 2012 Olympics, one floor of the event's former press centre will become the Plexal tech innovation centre. Entiq says on its website that you can start applying for space in November, and the operation will "open fully in spring 2017".

The 251,000 sq ft press centre is one of five parts of the Here East complex (PDF) in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. It's the building closest to the River Lea. It's separated from the main building (which has Here East painted on its roof) by a theatre building. The Olympic stadium - now West Ham United's football ground - is behind it in the photo (above), with Canary Wharf in the top right. Entiq's founder Claire Cockerton, was one of the co-creators of the Canary Wharf Group's Level39, which claims to be "Europe's largest technology accelerator for finance, retail, cyber-security and future cities technology companies".

Plexal will provide "a wide range of services including practical intrapreneurship and entrepreneurship education courses, a state-of-the-art testing and prototyping lab, acceleration and incubation programmes, events, networking opportunities and a range of funding alternatives. With an initial focus on technology innovation applied to sports, well-being, fashion and mobility, the centre will have capacity for 800 members, becoming the home for corporates and start-ups that are designing and creating the connected products that will improve our lives".

Plexal has 68,000 sq ft available. It is offering 300-350 co-working spaces with prices starting at £200 per desk, plus some individual offices.

The success of this kind of project depends on getting a critical mass of participants, as well as pleasant surroundings and good transport links. In its favour, the Here East complex is already home to BT Sport's television studios, and a huge Infinity SDC data centre, among other things. The "mini city" design includes plenty of spaces for shops and restaurants, plus an indoor bike park.

Loughborough University has just opened a London campus for postgraduates in Here East's broadcast building, while Hackney Community College is opening an academy for Tech City apprentices. University College London and the London College of Fashion are also opening new campuses. The close association between advanced university research and start-ups is already well known everywhere from Silicon Valley to Cambridge, England, so these could help Plexal succeed.

Transport links include the Stratford tube station, Stratford International* railway station, and next to that, a station for the Docklands Light Railway. There are also bus services.

Claire Cockerton, who is also Plexal's CEO, says: "We will deliver the UK's next technology and innovation cluster; a launch pad for scaling firms and a soft landing pad for companies coming to London for the first time."

* High speed trains to Paris etc don't stop there, because it's only 7 minutes to St Pancras.

The Yard area between the former Olympic press and broadcast centres

The Yard area between the former Olympic press centre (left) and broadcast centre (right) provides space for some night life

Photo: Here East
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