Networking giant Cisco set up IDEALondon with publisher DC Thompson and UCL in the Tech City area of London. The centre aims to nurture and grow 15 early-stage and existing startup companies in London.
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Cisco chose its startups through its British Innovation Gateway awards (BIG), while UCL’s Advances programme will select the best entrepreneurs from the university's digital programme.
Professor Stephen Caddick, vice-provost for enterprise at UCL and a member of the Government’s Tech City Advisory Group, said: “IDEALondon will ensure the future growth and prosperity of start-ups across the area by giving them access to all the opportunities working with a world-leading university can provide – access to advanced lab facilities, computer scientists and a closed community market research programme – right on their doorstep.”
DC Thompson will focus on supporting startups working in digital content creative, advertising, e-commerce and educational technologies.
The Innovation and Digital Enterprise Alliance (IDEA) will also house a National Virtual Incubator, which aims to harness innovation and incubation around the UK.
The programme will collaborate with other startup clusters around the UK, using Cisco’s networking technology.
“Our new centre is connecting dozens of clusters in the UK via video collaboration technology,” Tom Kneen, lead of the Big Awards programme, and head of business development at Cisco, told Computer Weekly in August 2013.
The National Virtual Incubator will provide communication between incubators, science parks, and universities that are working on different projects across the UK.
“The idea is to provide coverage around the country, but specialise in areas,” said Kneen. “But if you’re in Sunderland, you won’t be disadvantaged as you can connect to London.”
Different areas of the UK are known for producing different types of technology. Dundee University specialises in gaming; Strathclyde University in renewable energies and sensors; Swansea in health; and Manchester in media.
The virtual incubator will also connect with innovation clusters in Birmingham, Cambridge, Coventry and Greenwich. All of these areas will be connected back to Tech City in London which has grown into a centralised area for technology innovation in the UK.
“Early on, the government was criticised that all the noise was about Tech City in London, but we have interesting developers and research all over country,” said Kneen.
“It’s good that we can offer something to support Tech City, but Tech City will also have a window to other places as well.”