It was only a year ago that we were all eagerly anticipating London 2012 in our role as network infrastructure supporter. It was exciting, at times daunting and – looking back – tremendous to be at the heart of bringing the Games to the world.
To quote Lord Coe at the closing ceremony, “we did it right.” In many ways, the end of the Games was actually the start for us. That’s why on the back of our success, I’m looking forward to 2013 with huge optimism. It’s time to make our Games legacy a reality.
Back in 2011, we pledged to support the development of Tech City in London and the Government’s wider UK growth and innovation agenda. So how are plans shaping up And how are we helping students to learn? How are we discovering and supporting entrepreneurs? How are we helping them to mature and grow their technology start-ups?
Much of our investment and activities are focused on the British Innovation Gateway (BIG), developed in consultation with No.10 Downing Street and jointly announced with the PM in January 2011.
BIG is already providing grass-roots support for the best tech-based businesses, innovations and ideas. We ran the BIG Awards in 2012 which saw over 300 entries. Snap Fashion was crowned winner following a live Dragon’s Den-style event and Jenny Griffiths, Founder and CEO, was presented with a cheque for $100,000, plus a mentorship package valued at over $100k including business support, investment advice, technology advice, marketing and PR support and legal advice. All six finalists were brilliant, and I’m fully expecting the bar to be raised for this year’s BIG Awards when they launch on 20 March.
We’ve also been busy creating IDEALondon. This offers a world-class business acceleration programme and facilities in the heart of London’s Tech City, and is jointly supported by Cisco, DC Thompson and University College London. Each of us has made a three-year commitment to offering fully-connected office facilities, mentoring and support programmes, as well as an array of digital expertise.
We’ve also been establishing a UK-wide network – called the National Virtual Incubator – in business schools, science parks, universities and colleges. It’s a fancy name with the simple goal of connecting students, entrepreneurs and “startups” so they can collaborate, share good ideas and thinking and potentially work together, as well as seeking mentoring, business and financial support regardless of where they are located.
We’re committed to building a legacy that will last long into the future. We want to add another dimension to the UK economy in terms of our capability to nurture innovation. All our activities are designed to support the next generation of technology “startups” and support talented individuals towards the right career path.
You’ll find many different ways to be part of BIG on our new website. So don’t delay, get involved – we really want to hear from you.