Here East CEO Gavin Poole looks back on 5 years since the Here East brand was launched at SXSW 2014.
Today marks 5 years since the Here East brand was launched. Born out of our vision to create a major new technology and creative campus in London, which had collaboration and innovation at its heart, the brand now stands strong as part the technology eco-system in London, the UK and across the globe.
Launched at SXSW14 alongside the team who helped bring the brand to life (Poke and DN&Co), we wanted to show the true authenticity of Here East and emphasise the vision we had for this truly innovative technology campus. It seemed only natural to launch at the global gathering of technologists and creatives in Austin Texas - after all we wanted to engage our future customers in their own backyard by showcasing our work, explaining our vision and supporting local tech talent.
Since our 2014 launch the brand has gone from strength to strength.
Carefully curating a 1.2m sq ft campus however, is not a small undertaking. A major part of our planning was to ensure the companies we welcomed onto the site would want to contribute to the community and be open to collaboration. We thought long and hard about every company who wanted to make Here East their home, and by this considered approach. We are now 70% full and have achieved our ambition of becoming a home for global companies, like Ford Smart Mobility, Saga, NeoPost, Matchesfashion.com and BT Sport who now sit alongside a thriving start-up and scale-up community in Plexal.
Plexal, our innovation centre was central to our 2012 vision and bid for the site. Now, as a sister company to Here East both owned by Delancey, Plexal is a huge success and home to over 120 small start-up and innovative fast-growth scale-ups. In addition to these companies, the UK government selected Plexal to host the UK cyber security centre (LORCA), and support the growth of over 70 cyber companies over 3 years. With Cohort 2 in San Francisco this week for the RSA conference, the call out for Cohort 3 is out for the next 6 months programme commencing in June.
Between all of these businesses sits the academic component which glues together the collaborative nature of the campus. Loughborough University London and UCL bring over 1,000 post graduate students, PhDs, collaborative projects and guest lectures to the Here East community. In addition to this, they are working on state-of-the-art research into robotics, design for manufacture, and heritage and culture.
In 2014 we had a lengthy and ambitious bucket list for Here East. It’s amazing to see just how quickly we are working through it. To date, the campus has seen car launches, global smartphone launches, tech talks and knowledge sharing. We have hosted Tech London Advocates’ large-scale conferences, e-sports events, political hustings and creative conferences like the first OFFF London exported from Barcelona. Over the past few years, Here East has proven to be a convener within the tech community gathering thousands to our campus.
The last 5 years have been an incredible journey for us and we have learnt a huge amount in the process. The connections we have made on an international level and closer to home have been hugely influential and had an exciting impact on our future ambitions. One of our proudest achievements has been contributing to the thriving and fast-growing London tech scene and building a strong platform upon which the tech of the future will be built.
We have returned to SXSW again this year to continue to build on the vision we unveiled 5 years ago. Here East has come a long way, but we are only at the beginning of our journey. We are looking forward to launching new partnerships with our friends at Austin’s Capital Factory, meeting new companies and tech founders, and fully immersing ourselves in the future of tech which is being showcased throughout the event.
This year, SXSW comes at a particularly pivotal time for UK businesses. While the political situation remains unclear, it is vital to remember that our strength lies in international collaboration on a truly global scale. Tech companies around the world are united in their desire contribute to the progress of major industries and in finding solutions to the most pressing issues of our time, and Here East will remain part of this progress.
So whatever the future holds – we welcome it. Bring on the next five years.