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Boris Johnson's tech incubator to be one of the most expensive in Central London

Deputy mayor promises to take '22-year-old girls and boys and expose them to the big cheeses...'

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Boris Johnson’s tech incubator will be one of the most co-working spaces in Central London, Techworld can reveal.

The traveltech incubator, which will open this summer within the office of London & Partners, the Mayor of London’s promotional agency, will charge start-ups “about” £400 per person per month, according to Tom Day, head of new business at London & Partners.

The revelation, made at a launch event this week, means the traveltech incubator next to the iconic Tower Bridge, will be on a par with Central Working, which is widely considered to be the most expensive co-working space in Central London at £399 per person per month, and more expensive than the Tesco-backed Rainmaking Loft, which charges £299 per person per month.

Other co-working spaces in London also charge significantly less. For example, Innovation Warehouse charges between £235 per month and £295 per person per month (depending on the number of people in the company), while Tech Space London charges between £300 and £335.

Level39, a fintech accelerator in East London's Canary Wharf, charges £525 per person per month but, strictly speaking, that's not in Central London. 

When asked at the launch of the incubator why London & Partners was charging so much, Day said: “We’re not looking for absolute start-ups...we’re looking for people who have got something on the go already. It’s a little bit more, that’s fine, but it’s also worth it.”

Start-ups in Johnson's traveltech incubator will receive mentoring and support that may not necessarily be available at other co-working spaces in London. However,  many incubators in London allow start-ups to use their space for free, such as the Microsoft Ventures accelerator in Whitechapel, East London, and Startupbootcamp's fintech (financial technology) accelerator, which is backed by the likes of Lloyds, Mastercard and Rabobank. 

The traveltech incubator is being set up in partnership with the help of co-working space provider, The Trampery, which has also set up a fashiontech incubator with London College of Fashion, and a design incubator with communications firm, Mother. 

The Trampery will be tasked with redesigning an entire floor at the London & Partners office to make it more appealing to start-ups. 

Speaking at the launch this week, founder of The Trampery, Charles Armstrong, said: "This is your last opportunity to see this building in its current state. Over the next few months we’ll be transforming all of this floor.

"Our mission here is to help to bring together and then turbocharge the next generation of innovators [in traveltech]. Traveltech isn't a category that’s talked about very much and part of what we wanted to do alongside London & Partners was put in on the map in a way that it hasn’t been in the past.

“The UK has an incredible track record of fostering innovation in the traveltech sector,” he added, pointing to Citymapper, Skyscanner and Top Table as examples.

Deputy Mayor of London Kit Malthouse said: "It seems logical given the importance of the travel industry, the hospitality, the tourism industry and culture generally to London, that we should try and do something to integrate the great creativity there is in technology and digital in London, with the fantastic creativity there is in travel."

He added that the facility will aim to take the "22-year-old girls and boys and expose them to the big cheeses to accelerate their growth and get their technology into big companies."

Day said the success of the traveltech incubator will be measured by the “quality of the start-ups it churns out” but was unable to provide any specifics beyond that. “You’ll be measuring it more than I will,” he added.

The length of time that each start-up can stay in the traveltech incubator is unclear at this stage. “Obviously with 35 desks here we can only keep them for a certain time,” said Day. “If it’s a success hopefully the companies will be in and out within a short space of time.”


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