We’ll continue to use our contacts and expertise to attract businesses to the Park and surrounding area – and we’ll continue making connections between industry, investors and the public sector to create the right space for business, deliver innovative enterprise support programmes and work with our partners to build stronger business networks.
We work closely with local boroughs to ensure that a sufficient supply of low-cost and managed workspace is available within the Park and surrounding area. We’re setting the standard on our own land in Hackney Wick and Bromley-by-Bow. This involves working with developers and workspace providers to ensure space is available to maximise the commercial viability of businesses at all stages, as well as providing enterprise support to help them grow and flourish.
Another way of fostering a local enterprise ecosystem is the use of temporarily vacant land in and around Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. There are a number of projects in development that will provide temporary, ‘meanwhile’ workspace to help nurture and grow independent businesses.
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Our peer-to-peer accelerator programme for small business owners, ECHO++, has supported over 150 businesses locally since it started in 2014. Run on an economy of time and skills as opposed to pounds and pence, the programme delivers sector-specific advice, mentoring and networking to small businesses. Designed for local sole traders, freelancers, start-ups, micro and small to medium enterprises, Echo++ is helping to build the knowledge, skills, services and resources of the local business community.
We’re also partnering with Plexal to pilot a new accelerator programme for women entrepreneurs in the technology sector: Plexiglass. In recognition that only 17% of tech company founders are women and only 9% of start-up funding goes to female founders, Plexiglass proposes to inject more diversity into the tech sector in east London, based at Plexal, by working intensively over two months with women founders providing coaching, masterclasses and networking opportunities for venture capital.
We want to help locally based SMEs to win more contracts. But they often lack the expertise to navigate convoluted procurement processes on larger contracts. We’re partners in the Building Legacies Project, which has provided business planning advice to more than 350 SMEs over the last couple of years, including helping them overcome barriers to compete for larger opportunities. Led by East London Business Place, the programme also works with developers and contractors in the built environment to promote responsible procurement and help them diversify their supply chains to contract with local SMEs.
The universities and cultural institutions moving to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park are leaders in their fields. As global beacons for the arts, culture, science and experimentation they’re also helping to drive innovation in the economy locally. We’re working with them to facilitate further collaboration to generate a unique cluster effect that translates into new spin-off businesses and even more research and innovation.
The fashion industry contributes over £1.4 billion annually and 36,000 jobs to east London’s economy, but it faces some big structural challenges. Led by the London College of Fashion, and other partners like the British Fashion Council, local businesses and other institutions, we’re working to identify the key opportunities and barriers to growth for the industry. This includes leading a skills development project that will train local people in cutting-edge fashion skills, unlocking more affordable space for fashion and creative businesses, and directly investing in innovative business practices through open innovation competitions.
Nneka and stooki- echo++
Echo++ is a business accelerator programme aimed at small businesses - but built on the principle of sharing knowledge. Participants pay for the programme with a time-based currency called Echo, rather than money. One Echo is worth one hour.
Backed by LLDC, the Echo++ programme has reached out to more than 170 local businesses across a range of sectors.
“It was a bit like Dragons Den, but not as scary,” says Nadia. “Going into Echo I wasn’t too confident about presenting my idea and pitching. But they gave helpful criticism and feedback to help push us forward. They seemed to really buy into the idea of our business and everything behind it. This has all really helped me build my confidence and take our presentation up that extra notch.
“We want to pitch to big companies like Nike and Adidas and collaborate with them to create collections that work with clothes or shoes.”
Echo++ programme lead Nneka Chukwurah explains that “The courses allow people to take a step back from running their business and think about different components like business modelling, marketing and managing finances. I try to make sure there’s a good mix of businesses to create opportunities for skill and knowledge sharing.
“I do a lot of matchmaking between alumni from different cohorts and regularly check in to see where people are with their business,” says Nneka. Building these close relationships helps her to understand what motivates people so she can provide really bespoke, one-to-one advice to help them be successful. “I also give them suggestions for how they might pay Echos back.