Level39, the FinTech Accelerator programme run by the Canary Wharf Group, has recieved 112 applications from interested start-ups since its launch four weeks ago, underlining the growing strength of the sector as part of the UK's start-up scene.
During an exclusive tour of the space head of the programme, Eric Van der Kleij, told V3 he may have to temporarily close the website application process next week given the huge demand.
Level39 was officially launched by both Van der Kleij and London Mayor Boris Johnson on the 18 March as an accelerator space for early-stage start-ups in the areas of financial technology, retail technology and smart cities technology.
The accelerator programme offers start-ups not only a working environment in the hub of the financial sector, but also mentorship, networking and investment opportunities.
The 39th floor of the 1 Canada Square has everything a start-up would need, offering different sized offices, relaxation spaces, conference theatres, board rooms, Skype booths and development labs with their own LAN network. Free drinks and snacks are also on tap.
Furthermore, Level39 includes a Club Lounge, not yet opened, but designed for investors and venture capital firms to network, have lunch, and relax.
The idea of the lounge is to bring start-ups in closer proximity to the investment community, and investors are offered a half-price membership fee if they agree to drop-in and mentor the Level39 start-ups four times a year.
With Van der Kleij as the head of the programme, Level39 attracted immediate interest from the start-up community and government. Van der Kleij previously was the chief executive of the Tech City Investment organisation, and has a history as a start-up FinTech entrepreneur himself.
Expectations have been set by both the investment community and the media that Van der Kleij will build a financial tech start-up scene in Canary Wharf, just as he did the digital, social and mobile technology scene in Tech City.
The only difference is this time he is working for a private company - although the Canary Wharf Group is such a large London property developer and owns such a large area of the Canary Wharf area, that Van der Kleij still appears to have a similar degree of freedom.
Van der Kleij told V3 that start-ups can become part of the Level39 programme either through accelerator programmes run by the likes of Accenture or through applying to the programme via the Level39 website, which has yet to officially launch.
"Many start-ups have been applying to the programme through the website but I may have to close applications in the next week or so, as we have been flooded. In the last month, we've had 112 applications," said Van der Kleij.
The process for gaining a place on Level39 is rigorous. Van der Kleij and two other members of staff look over and assess every single application.
"I look over every single application as the quality of this place depends on the calibre of businesses we attract. Also our ability to support particular start-ups depends on their quality. We are completely focussed on helping businesses get traction every day they are here."
Start-ups will still be able to join the Level39 programme but only as drop-in members. Once the website application process is closed, if start-ups want to become permanent members of the programme, they will have to come through an accelerator programme.
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