How London’s Incubators are Helping Small Businesses Stay Afloat

London is home to over 400,000 micro-businesses and startups. A thriving international city that attracts some of the world’s biggest investors and brightest minds, it’s no wonder the UK capital is a centre of business innovation.

But for every entrepreneurial endeavour that thrives in the city, the same number of startups fails within just five years. Thankfully, there are efforts to promote increased diversification of business and innovation in the capital offering these startups a helping hand. Foremost among these are startup incubators.

Sussex Innovation Centre Croydon
Sussex Innovation Centre – photo credit:

There has been a proliferation of accelerator and incubator programmes in London in recent years, the number of formal programmes having risen by an estimated 110% between 2011 and 2014.

Here are three ways London’s in which biggest and brightest incubators are supporting the growth of fledgling businesses, providing spaces, communities and campuses for startups to evolve in.

Providing space for fledgling businesses to gain a foothold

A business ‘incubator’ is something of a catalyst tool, supporting that new business’s development. Typically, this refers to management and training provision, but rarely do we appreciate the valuable resource of simply providing a fertile space for businesses to operate and consequently grow. In a city where traditional office space costs on average £118 per square foot, serviced offices and coworking spaces are providing that incubation for new businesses who would otherwise be priced out of the market.

photo credit: Luc / Flickr

London office space providers Dephna Group won recognition as the Coworking Space of the Year in the 2017 West London Business Awards for their serviced offices in Park Royal, home to micro-businesses and startups in the creative, media and product design sectors. Dephna was praised by judges for its “‘convincing can-do approach’,enabling a new generation of businesses to grow” in a sector vital to West London’s future. Recognition like this shows how important incubator spaces are to the future of UK business.

Flexibility is perhaps the most beneficial trait of serviced offices and coworking spaces: the ability to get into an office, commercial kitchen or meeting room quickly, together with the ability to upsize as business demands. For start-ups, it means they’re able to hit the ground running. It great news, then, that massive growth is predicted for the the serviced offices market over the coming decade, fostering the growth of fledgling businesses as they strive to expand.

Providing a community for small businesses to flourish

Community enterprise networks and business mentor programmes equip startups and small businesses with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed. But business success is owed just as much to expert advice and coaching as it is to establishing a startup through strong networks of industrial, financial and mentoring partners to help ventures evolve into successful businesses.

Blenheim Chalcot is a venture builder that occupies a bustling five-storey building in London’s Hammersmith Broadway, and is home to young tech startups it ‘incubates’ in house. Unlike venture capital firms, Blenheim Chalcot doesn’t just set up a new business with a coworking space and funds. Instead, they offer a “shared ecosystem” to help entrepreneurs take their ideas from conception to maturity.

This ‘ecosystem’ is one rich with experience and resources to help ventures scale and grow into self-sustaining businesses. With expert legal advice, finance expertise, talent acquisition and online marketing services, they aim to foster smb growth with a rare hands-on approach to venture capital.

Providing a campus in which startups can succeed

London is home to some of the most innovative tech startups the world over. The key to continuing the considerable advances being made among these small tech firms is to equip them with the infrastructure they need to do so. A project, known as Here East, looks to build a tech campus to do just that.

The area, near the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is set to see an investment of around £1 billion to turn it into a centre for digital businesses with a state of the art telecommunications infrastructure that will host global companies like BT Sport and Infinity alongside innovative digital and tech start ups. “This is a dedicated campus about collaboration and innovation that we haven’t got anywhere else” said Here East’s CEO.

One of the site’s key features is the the Plexal Innovation Centre, a 45,000 square foot incubator offering members access to specialised prototyping and making facilities

practical education and professional services complete with a coworking space. It’s a particularly fertile environment for funding opportunities to support entrepreneurs and startups as they scale.

Providing businesses with access basic services and infrastructure, specialist advice and support as well as that all important London office space and custom environments, startup incubators and accelerators can help increase a business’s chance of success to 92%. Increasing the chance of success among these budding startups is key to helping London stay at the forefront of business innovation in the years to come.