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Canary Wharf start-up incubator opens private members club for CIOs

Aims to attract CIOs, investors and entrepreneurs

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Canary Wharf start-up accelerator Level39 has opened an exclusive private members club to help enterprise CIOs and potential investors liaise with promising financial technology, retail and smart city start-ups. 

The space, known as ClubLounge39, is designed to act as melting pot for large enterprises and start-ups. 

Housed behind a discreet door on the 39th floor of London's second tallest skyscraper, One Canada Square, the exclusive facility has the look and feel of an upper class airline lounge. It features one of the UK's highest restaurants, one-off pieces of art work and several breakout rooms for those who require an extra degree of privacy.  

On a tour of ClubLounge39, Claire Cockerton, deputy head of Level39, said she hopes London-based CIOs and CTOs companies such as JP Morgan and Barclays will sign up as members. Due to the exclusivity of the club, Cockerton was unable to specify which CIOs have already joined as members. 

ClubLounge39 is also targeted at early stage tech investors, successful founders and the wider finance community. 

“We wanted to it to be a relaxed and unpretentious environment where you can do work and chat on your phone and invite your entrepreneur or mentee for lunch,” said Cockerton. 

Level39 is also aiming to attract overseas members to the club, said Cockerton. “If the members are not local to London they’ll use this space when they have a meeting in the Wharf and they want to meet new entrepreneurs,” she said. 

Members are charged £2,000 per year unless they agree to provide at least one day of mentoring to start-ups working out of Level39 every three months, in which case they will be charged £1,000. 

Commenting on the membership fee, Cockerton said: “A thousand quid a year is quite a reasonable price point for an exclusive club lounge. It goes beyond the fine dining to offer you some good business opportunities.”

David Murray-Hundley, one of ClubLounge39's first members and a co-founder of Commerce One, which reached a market value of $22 billion, said: “I signed up for ClubLounge39 as the technology world has never really had a members club. There isn’t a place where you can get on with some serious work and not just hang out and talk about “what if” and “blue sky” scenarios all day. 

“For someone who lives outside of London, ClubLounge39 is a good place to motivate myself in an otherwise chaotic city. I’ve not yet held a meeting in the Club where my guests have not been impressed by the view, food, wine and staff. When the environment is combined with a community of members who are actually getting results, it makes for a pretty special set up.” 

Private equity investor Kristen English said she joined because it's a unique place to meet people in fintech.

"There is nowhere else like it for our industry,” she said. “The location makes it convenient as a drop-in-point for individuals from banking institutions, venture capital firms and younger technology businesses."

She added: "The informality makes it possible to strike up a conversation with anyone and share ideas and particularly with other fluent fintech speakers - a real melting pot for ideas."

Level39 was set up by former Tech City CEO Eric Van der Kleij in 2012. It falls under the Canary Wharf Group, which wanted to “diversify its tenant base” and encourage companies in “growth sectors” to locate themselves in the area. 

Today the accelerator has a number of partnerships with large tech companies, such as Microsoft and Intel, as well as large enterprises like John Lewis



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