How Here East digital hub embraces culture innovation | Tech News
From its beginnings as a data centre in 2016, Here East has now evolved into a cultural hub that strives to bring together academia, business, and entrepreneurs from a variety of sectors – with a common thread of embracing digital culture and collaboration.
Originally planned as a data centre site, in 2017 Here East became home to the official Olympic Park press centre but a year later, the £100 million project is now host to a number of working spaces, and regularly holds events to encourage creativity and collaboration for its perhaps traditionally disparate residents.
“To us, having culture embedded within the new era of technology is really important and we just thought we’ve been cut off from these areas for too long, so our aim is to make sure we transform this,” Gavin Poole, CEO at Here East told Techworld.
The sprawling complex covers 1.2 million square feet in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, bringing together a range of businesses from technology to fashion and education, and the University College London and Loughborough University London have both located there as well.
During the tour, we saw the large open areas, offset with theatre spaces either under construction or ready for use. There were offices of every size, and bigger rooms for companies to hold meetings or work in. Further into the site, there’s a cafe area accompanied by open spaces for people to chat and mingle.
The press centre entrance was on the left, while BT Sports and Loughborough University London are located next to each other on the right. Two shuttle buses are available: from Stratford station and Hackney Wick, for a quick 10 minute run to and from Here East.
“Part of the whole vision was to create a space as big as we’ve got to attract global lead companies such as Ford and BT who are based here,” Poole added. “So Ford has opened up their smart mobility centre here, and that includes really interesting companies who deal with smart cities and a range of technologies, basically Plexal.”
Read next: Here East: Plexal promises to be one of Europe’s biggest tech hubs when it launches in May 2017
But Poole added that it’s not in competition with London’s tech hubs in, for example, King’s Cross or Battersea Power Station.
“I think for us, a key component to all this is about public migration. We run major events here, our theatre space takes 1,000 people and we have people that run venture capital events for us,” he said.
“What companies like is being able to see the opportunity as a business transformation one. They come in here because they are interested in a range of stuff and it gives you the customer focus, that’s what we’ve been doing.”
“The difference really adds value. We are a cluster with a mixture of spirits trying to fix things using innovation, people, ideas and technology and it doesn’t necessarily have to include technology due to the people and their ideas, which is conceptual to every kind of technology,” he added.
“The use of innovative ideas is important and putting these people together is important, because if you say no to people you have this feeling that they’re also just trying to participate in what we’re doing,” he said.
Here East is still open for startups and corporates looking for office space, and also hosts an accelerator programme for women who have founded businesses, run by Plexiglass.