FOR too long, the worlds of entrepreneurship and finance have been separate spheres. The choice has always been between working for a behemoth in the corporate jungle, or taking that leap of faith to go it alone in a field of work unrelated to your City career; indulging a personal passion – perhaps opening that Siberian soup kitchen, or fulfilling that dream of buying a vineyard on the Falkland Islands (despite the best advice of your friends and former colleagues).
Today, Canary Wharf Group is hoping to fuse entrepreneurship and finance. It is launching Level39, Europe’s largest accelerator space for technology businesses innovating in the financial services sector.
Opening in early 2013 on the thirty-ninth floor of One Canada Square, the incubator and accelerator space will be a sophisticated office and social space for small businesses to create, market and deliver world-class financial technology products and services. The new facility aims to create a focal point for London’s financial technology innovators, and ensure that the capital takes full advantage of the global surge in financial and big data technologies.
The initiative will be led by Eric Van Der Kleij, technology entrepreneur and outgoing chief executive of Tech City Investment Organisation. Van Der Kleij has said that “Level39 will help growing technology companies connect with the business opportunities, talent, investment and advice provided by the world’s leading financial services providers already established at Canary Wharf.” The Mayor of London Boris Johnson thinks “attracting the brightest entrepreneurial minds is crucial if London is to maintain its position as the world’s foremost financial centre. Level39 is sure to foster talent and help the capital’s technology and financial sectors flourish, in turn driving jobs and growth.”