Technology entrepreneur Eric Van Der Kleij, who recently announced his intention to step down as chief executive of the Tech City Investment Organisation (TCIO), has been appointed as a specialist adviser to property development organisation, Canary Wharf Group.
Van Der Kleij will advise the Group on linking Canary Wharf’s established financial and professional services companies with London’s burgeoning technology scene, providing growing companies with office space, amenities and opportunities to win new business and attract finance, talent and mentoring, according to a statement.
The project is part of Canary Wharf Group's wider strategy to “diversify its tenant base” and encourage companies in “growth sectors” to locate themselves in the area.
“We welcome Eric’s expertise on to the team. He will help us to create new, customised business locations, fused with technology and an attractive lifestyle, that aim to match exactly what businesses will require twenty or thirty years into the future,” said Sir George Iacobescu, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Canary Wharf Group.
“Canary Wharf has a role to play in bringing together London’s business sectors. We can 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.”
Some steps have already been taken to create a technology hub in Canary Wharf. Thomson Reuters, Infosys and Ogilvy & Mather are already based in the area, as well as many additional technology professionals working at adjacent financial services companies.
But the area suffers from many of the same disadvantages as the Olympic Park, which is seen as distant, inaccessible and with no obvious connections to the Shoreditch community. A recent think tank report by Centre for London stated that the government's plan to expand the “Tech City” cluster eastwards to the Olympic Park was misguided.
However, Van Der Kleij believes that Canary Wharf may be the ideal place for some companies to expand – especially those active in financial technolog, because it is close to sources of business, talent and investment.
“London business districts need to respond to the rapidly changing needs of technology companies, from start-ups to mature and expanding businesses,” he said. “London is doing very well at the technology start-up stage, but more can be done to accommodate larger, growing companies looking for the very best in office technology, sustainability and lifestyle.”