Tech City Wharf is up and running

By Rob Virtue on October 4, 2012 3:37 PM |

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Tech whizzes working alongside rainmakers in the financial services sector - that's the vision of Eric Van Der Kleij, appointed by Canary Wharf Group to lure IT and digital firms to the region.

And it will all take place on the 39th floor of One Canada Square - 29,000sq ft of tailor-made workspace soon open for business.

Announcing the plans this week Van Der Kleij said: "There was no place for connecting the financial services sector with the technologists.

"That's why Canary Wharf Group has to do this. It's to create a soft landing for those innovating to come to the heart of the area.

"Level39 will help us find the next bunch of innovators."

Office space will be let on "favourable terms" and the floor will start taking small companies in January.

Included in the package will be office space, "sandboxes" for software engineers to test their products and a 200-seater event area - a Dragons' Den where start-ups can pitch to investors.

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"We're looking for companies with something to add and who need better visibility to the financial community," said Van Der Kleij.

"We're also inviting CEOs from financial firms to see those changes and even set competitions if they need a problem solved."

Small firms will set up at Level39 with the potential to grow into Wood Wharf nearby where development starts in 2014.

Van Der Kleij said: "You could come here to Level39 with five people, then expand to 20, then 200 and, rather than displace your workforce, you can stay here.

"With Wood Wharf you could specify the type of office space you would like. You can plan your future. If you're a CEO of a major tech company maybe Wood Wharf is where you want to be. It's all here. The infrastructure is all in place."

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While Canary Wharf Group is keen to talk up the tech and media companies already working on the estate - currently totalling 7,000 workers - it's still widely seen as a financial services hub.

Van Der Kleij, until recently CEO at the Tech City Investment Organisation - the cluster of firms expanding east from Old Street - has been brought into CWG as a digital ambassador to challenge that perception and bring in more start-ups and digital specialists.

"When CWG approached me they wanted to see how they could do something to contribute to the tech community," he said.

"It was a good move for me because I always said I would never do more than two years at Tech City. I'm an entrepreneur at heart.

"CWG is very much part of Tech City. We're now at a critical mass for Tech City and it's right certain areas become specialist."

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