2012’s Olympic host is on a winning streak for start-ups

By Bindi Karia

Holding this year’s European BizSpark Summit in London gives me a good chance to put the spotlight on why the UK’s capital city has become one of the best places for start-ups (and business in general).

Someone who is as equally passionate as me about this topic is Pru Ashby, Senior Business Development Manager and Tech City Specialist at London & Partners, the Mayor of London’s official promotional organisation.  I asked Pru to take some time out of her busy schedule to find out more.

BK: “Pru, can you tell readers what London & Partners do?

PA: “On behalf of the Mayor of London, we promote the city globally: to international students who can attend one of the many highly-regarded universities here; to event organisers, ranging from conferences to major sports organisations; and of course assisting businesses as they set up and grow, creating jobs in the city. As the Tech Specialist at London & Partners I work closely Tech City Investment Organisation, UKTI and the Mayor’s office to support London’s growth as a major digital hub.

BK: “Why should businesses think about locating themselves in London?”

PA: “We have a lot to offer and it’s all very accessible.  In London, start-ups are within easy reach of a broad ecosystem: partners, customers, investors, even policy-makers.  You can fit in several very useful meetings in one day, with minimal travel.  And with its great transport connections, it is easy to get all over Europe and worldwide from here. And with a time zone spanning the global working day in London you can embrace both Asia Pacific and the US.”

BK: “Is the available talent pool here another factor?”

PA: “Absolutely.  Companies like yours select London for just that reason.  It’s true of start-ups too: I know of several organisations that chose London because it gives them access not just to developers and engineers, but financial, marketing and other skill-sets.  Plus, if you are planning to ‘Europeanise’ your content or products, it is a lot easier to do from the UK, because we have the local expertise. London really is an international city.”

BK: “Why do you think programs like BizSpark are important?”

PA: “BizSpark is a key player in the start-up ecosystem.  For young companies that have little capital, it helps them to get started quickly and – as far as technology is concerned – saves them a lot of money.  There is also all the business and technical support that you and your colleagues are able to offer them and on a very personal level.

BK: “Putting you on the spot now: if you had to give one piece of advice to start-ups in London, what would it be?”

PA: “Lack of finance is cited as one of the biggest challenges facing any start-up, so I encourage all companies to find out more about the increasing range of options and sources available here in London.  Shoreditch – where TechCity and the hub of London’s tech start-up community is based – is just a stone’s throw from the City’s huge financial centre.  Off the back of that, we’ve seen the launch of initiatives such as Angels in the City and ‘City Meets Tech’, that have been created to get the banking community to invest in technology start-ups. Then there are all the great networking and learning opportunities available in London: Digital Shoreditch runs until June 1st, Le Web comes to London June 19-20 and of course, the BizSpark European Summit on June 7th.  I look forward to meeting more of the BizSpark community then!”