We talk to CEO of Plexal Claire Cockerton about why she joined Here East to open Europe’s largest technology innovation centre, in the heart of East London
Plexal is our innovation centre and the largest innovation ecosystem in Europe. A state-of-the art environment designed as a mini-city for companies both big and small to accelerate innovation; complete with a town hall, cafes, makers lab, events stage, high street, central park and library.
Within 68,000 square feet, over 800 members converge at Plexal to imagine, design and create connected products that improve our lives.
Q: Tell us about what Plexal are building at Here East.
Claire: Plexal is Europe’s largest innovation ecosystem based at Here East on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. A state-of-the art environment designed as a mini-city for companies both big and small to accelerate innovation, complete with a town hall, cafes, makers lab, events stage, high street, central park and library. We provide a holistic suite of business services: accelerator programmes, in-house professional services, rapid prototyping equipment, intra and entrepreneurship training, mentorship and industry-leading events. Within 68,000 square feet, over 800 members converge at Plexal to imagine, design and create connected products that improve our lives.
Q: What can we expect to see come out of your space?
Claire: We’re on a mission to set the international gold standard for the innovation experience. Plexal will be known as the world-renowned creative and commercial ecosystem for people from all walks of life with the boldest ideas and a shared commitment to make life better through technology innovation.
Q: What’s special about this location?
Claire: Plexal’s located on the 1.2 million square-foot former London Olympic's Press & Broadcast centre – one of the most connected buildings in Europe, on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Open studio membership and elegant, flexible, private offices of various sizes will support 800 members and organisations, and we have the capacity to expand on demand; scaling firms into other spaces across the Here East estate.
We’re based a five minute walk from Hackney Wick and a five minute bike ride or bus from Stratford. We sit within a top UK transport hub with Stratford International offering quick access to City airport and the Eurostar. We also have over ten on-site incredible food and drink options at Canalside.
Q: Why did you decide to open up at Here East?
Claire: The infrastructure at Here East will provide unrivalled power and connectivity as a result of the vast telecoms infrastructure built into the buildings.
This includes access to 42 MVA of power, and fibre networks that have remained in place around the Olympic Park following the London 2012 Games. The unique location will provide almost unlimited bandwidth, allowing for virtually zero latency in the delivery and receipt of data. 75 per cent of the UK’s Internet peering points, 15 of 18, are just two miles away in Docklands.
The creative cluster of Hackney Wick is moments away, while the famous tech startup scene of East London surrounds us. We also value the multi-culturalism, entrepreneurship and multiple specialist industries characteristic of the East End. The neighbours of the Innovation Centre include 10 bars and restaurants including The Breakfast Club, Shane’s on Canalside, Mother, Gotto Trattoria, Randy’s Wing Bar, Mason & Company, and many more boutique offerings are on their way in 2017.
Q: What’s your favourite thing about East London?
Claire: I regularly swim at the London Aquatics Centre, an indoor facility with two 50-metre (160-foot) swimming pools and a 25-metre (82-foot) diving pool in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. It was one of the main venues of the 2012 Summer Olympics and the 2012 Summer Paralympics. The centre was used for the swimming, diving and synchronised swimming events. After significant modification, the centre opened to the public in March 2014.
Q: What’s your favourite thing about being part of Here East?
Claire: We’re situated on the beautiful, open and dynamic Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, an iconic space, that features world-class sporting and leisure venues; top-academic institutions such as UCL, Loughborough University and London College of Fashion; a cultural quarter soon to contain the Smithsonian Institute, Sadler’s Wells, and the V&A East, affordable local housing and an uber-connected retail hub at Westfield, Stratford. All of this is steeped in the historic legacy of London’s Olympic Games, the success of which is carried on in the incredible, collaborative, regeneration and economic development project across the park.