Europe to get a London TechHub for startups to meet and work in

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Europe has no real equivalent to the big hothouse that is Silicon Valley, but it does have lots of tech clusters and networks. As recent research from the startup Seedcamp startup programme has shown, clusters of innovation are spread far and wide across Europe.

One place everyone agrees is a key cluster is London. It now hosts offices belonging to all the top-tier pan-European VCs, several new Seed funds, has a very active Angel investor market and hosts many major tech events.

However, largely because of its cost – everything is still expensive here – London remains hard for European startups to access and get into, even in a recession. It’s incredibly cheap to rent an office in Berlin, for instance. In London it can be double the price. And although European and US entrepreneurs often need to take meetings and work in London, they don’t always need permanent office space, which can be extremely restrictive to startups. Who wants to sign a huge lease before you’ve raised any funding? The preference is for working out of anonymous clubs, cafes, and perhaps sub-letting a single desk here or there.

To some extent events and conferences are great for networking. But when you can actually rock up to a space and see people in your community — well, it’s unbeatable. That’s what the vibe is in the Valley, where you can literally walk into potential partners, investors and co-founders. That’s what’s lacking here in London, a key, lynch-pin city on the European scene.

So there’s clearly a problem that needs to be addressed if the startup eco system is to develop in Europe.

TechHub (@TechHub on Twitter) is new project put together by Elizabeth Varley and myself which will address just this issue. Elizabeth has been involved in the London digital media scene for a number of years, organised London Twestival and has recently been developing the concept of a physical space aimed specifically at small businesses and startups. Together, we’ve come up with a plan to create a space and services suited to the tech community and particularly at tech startups.

TechHub will be a new, physical space for tech entrepreneurs, tailored to tech people, and providing all the things we really like: Super-fast Wifi, power for our latops, coffee and flexible, plentiful desk space. There will be both permanent desks and a big co-working space.

It will be extremely affordable by average London standards. So affordable in fact that it will put some of these managed office which startups are forced to use to shame. That’s cool. Because startups rarely have cash to spare at the outset.

The location will also be pretty cool. It will be in the existing cluster around the Hoxton/ Shoreditch/ Old Street area which is already jammed packed with tech companies and has been named Silicon Roundabout and even has it’s own social network. So often, flexible office space is never where you want it. This will be at the heart of the London tech startup scene. It’ll be funded through membership, sponsorship and other partners. It won’t be an “incubator” or have it’s own venture fund or anything like that, it’ll just be a space, but with appropriate services. The first pre-launch partner is BookingBug.

Another reason I like the TechHub concept is that it can curate this membership space to create the that key tech entrepreneurial atmosphere.

Now, many people know that I’ve long championed a physical space in London able to access a key cluster of technology players in a defined area in London. I guess I might also have had a little something to do with the idea being propogated. But although I tried to help this idea along, I’m a blogger/journo, a critic. I don’t execute!

But now we have someone from the tech community who will. Elizabeth and I have put a working model together around the TechHub idea, and we’re going to make it happen.

I’ve decided to join as a cofounder/director to advise on TechHub’s strategy, in a purely personal capacity, to this project. So I’m declaring an interest, in as transparent manner as possible. This is a personal project for me and my involvement will have nothing formally to do with TechCrunch. This is not an “office space” for TechCrunch or anything remotely like that.

I’m also happy to make it clear that I won’t be involved in any day-to-day management or decisions about who becomes a member of the TechHub community. Only it’s overall strategic direction. My editorial integrity won’t be affected. Those day-to-day decisions will be up to Elizabeth and a membership group she plans to assemble (you’ll have to go to her for the details). All I can say is that I’m going to be a personal member, just as I’m already a member of other London clubs – all of which will be far less enjoyable as soon as TechHub gets going!

So, all I want to say is that I think this is going to work very well for the tech startup community, and that’s really all I want to see happen. I look forward to dropping in for coffee and meeting people there, when I’m in London. It should be a lot of fun.

  • David Whitewood

    Fantastic initiative. Where do I sign up?

    • Lewis Lee

      Great initiative Elizabeth. The idea of developing it as a space for start ups is productive.

  • Ben Werdmuller

    Excellent news, and badly needed. I’m really interested in using and being a part of this space.

  • Zuzanna Pasierbinska-Wilson

    Congratulations Elizabeth! This is a brilliant idea! Can I come and visit?

  • John

    this is great news. definitely wht’s needed.

  • Darren

    Its a great idea, I hope there are plans for regional hubs (in the uk). in the roadmap.

  • Chris Lake

    Great idea and Elizabeth has done well to pull you onboard. Should accelerate take up.

  • fb36913823

    Super duper. Well done Elizabeth. Much needed.

  • Martin-Éric

    London only ever appears as a suitable place because Americans chose another English-speaking country as their default location for a European office.

    From a European perspective, the diversity of attraction poles in Europe exists for a good reason. Until you’ve understood why, you’ll keep on missing the spot.

    • Aristocrat



      I think you’re wrong. Language is one of the factors. I think people choose London because of its rich diversity, tolerance and opportunities.

      London might not be the hot-spot to start up a business but it certainly has its main advantages.
      You are highly likely to get a business loan if you’re starting up in London as oppose to other EU Cities/Countries.

      You are highly likely to start a business in London if you are from an ethnic or small minority groups i.e. Jews, Blacks or Asians as oppose to other EU Countries. “Reason being discriminatory or racial or lack of community cohesion etc.”

      The banking system speaks locally and thinks and acts globally.

      London/UK has some of the top universities in world thus, generating some of the brightest brains around.

      Over 300 languages are spoken in London, making the capital the most linguistically diverse city in the entire world.

  • tenthings

    Don’t get me wrong, i really like the idea, but the best european startups are spread out across europe from sweden to israel, sometimes even working in rural locations. i think what’s needed is a virtual hub first, where we can at least get some news about what’s happening in urop

    • JT


      yeah, if only there was something like TechCrunch Europe or its Facebook group… for starters…

      • Martin-Éric

        Precisely. This site is called TechCrunch UK, which demonstrates a blatant failure to have a pan-European perspective on this market.

      • Shafqat

        @Martin-Eric: the site is called TechCrunch Europe. Even the logo was changed. Mike posted about this a while back, and the changes were to address exactly the issues you mentioned.

        It’s not lip service either – Mike travels around Europe, sets up events in major startup hubs (we helped organize one in Zurich) and generally does his best making TC Europe truly pan-European.

        The only complain can be the URL hasn’t changed, but who cares about that. Really perplexed by your comments to be frank.

      • Mike Butcher

        We’ve had problems changing the domain and there are issues about losing Google juice. Other than that the main issue was to runs events around Europe (Zurich, Paris, Berlin, Stockholm, Istanbul, Athens you name it) and write about startups across Europe – just check out archives.

      • tenthings

        again – don’t get me wrong but tc europe is the european branch of a silicon-valley-focused blog. that wasn’t what i was talking about.

        still, this techhub, sounds to me more like “a place to build startups/technology in order to sell it to some american giant and make big bucks”

      • Elizabeth Varley

        Thanks everyone for the comments, it’s great to see so much discussion!

        @tenthings TechHub is certainly not being created with a goal of selling to a US company. It’s aiming to meet some of the needs of tech startups from the UK, Europe, US and beyond – simple as that.

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  • YouPage @youpage

    Great idea, Good luck!!!!!!

  • Matthew Wilson

    We’re a web startup ( and have been in and out of various offices around the old street / shoreditch area for around a year now. We’re currently looking for an affordable, flexible home in this area and TechHub sounds perfect. The sooner the better please.

  • Trader Bots

    This article is interesting. In the gold rush, the glory and folklore used to wrap around the people digging for gold. The real moneymakers were the guys selling the shovels.

    TechHub sounds like a shovel seller. Smart.

  • Gabriel Aldamiz-echevarría

    Definitely a great initiative for Londoners.

  • Nik Smit

    Love the idea, about time! so much of startups is about serendipity. Proximity helps.

  • Chris

    I have had this idea for a while now, but setting up in Asia. It will be cool to come and have a nose when it’s all set up…

  • Lamia

    Curated? ‘Key entrepreneurs’? These are red flags. Is this going to be just another fashionable London club where people make it difficult to get in just so it can feel exclusive?

    This is going to create a class system, where access is determined by reputation, connections and the whoms of the ‘curators’. In a free market, it’s impossible to predict who will be really successful- the person not deemed fit for inclusion might be the next Microsoft. Wat are the criteria?

    Sounds like a good business (create demand by artificial scarcity). Not so sure if it’s going to result in any successful startups.

    • Alex Hillman


      “Curating” is never the answer when your goal is community. Cultivating is.

      Having founded and operated a coworking space in Philadelphia ( for the last 2+ years, I assure you that the random people that walked in the door, the people we wouldn’t have sought out, the people with the least “agenda”, have been the most contributory to growing the Philadelphia independent technology and creative community by leaps and bounds in just a couple of years.

      Rather than curate membership, we set a clear mission and goals for the community: make Philadelphia a better place to be successful making a living doing what we love.

      The people that identify with that, stick around and contribute the most. The people who don’t identify with that, well, some of them stick around but they aren’t harming anything by being here.

      I think that it’s great that London is getting (another) coworking space. There are already half a dozen or more.

      But I think that others who are more introspective about the community they already are rather than trying to replicate the community of Silicon Valley are finding far more success than TechHub will.

      • Elizabeth Varley

        @Alex I hear you on trying to replicate Silicon Valley, it’s definitely not the goal. TechHub should have it’s own flavour.

        I also share your thoughts on *contribution* being a key component, as that’s what really makes a community hum. I’d welcome a chat about the things you’ve found work well (and those that don’t).

        Valuable input from someone who’s been there and done it, thank you.

      • Alex Hillman

        Great to hear, Elizabeth. Feel free to reach out anytime!

    • Elizabeth Varley

      Thanks for your thoughts and I totally understand your concerns.

      Rather than exclusive, it’s really more about making decisions about members to get a good mix of types of businesses, from a range of countries (so it’s not totally London-centric).

      We’d love it to be a real physical hub where members can find out more about what’s happening in the industry – particularly outside their own immediate area – to get fresh perspectives and a wider view.

      Also, we hope that creating a good mix means more opportunities for collaboration, skills-sharing and using others’ expertise.

  • istanbul

    yeah woww thanks…

  • paul dowling

    Brilliant, I can see this being of interest to DreamStake clients.

  • taige Zhang

    You might find this useful:

    I did some research for my final project on the level of entrepreneurship and level of available resources across the EU

    • Elizabeth Varley

      Hey, that’s really useful info. Thanks!

  • Pier Paolo Mucelli

    Great initiative! It would be great to extend our services from @eOffice to start up incubators from other parts of London.
    Keep us updated on the development of this great project!

  • Colin Gilchrist

    Great plan – the whole scene is bursting up in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee at the moment – it needs real focus to help nurture the potential here and across Europe. I look forward to learning more.

  • LIAD

    Nice one Elizabeth!

    In the running for the best Mike Butcher line ever “I’m a blogger/journo, a critic. I don’t execute!” – love it!

    • Elizabeth Varley

      He he, yeah. I want to see that on a t-shirt!

  • Igor

    Not trying to start a flame war or anything but this comment seemed a little disingenuous:

    “….The only complain can be the URL hasn’t changed, but who cares about that. ..”

    I think you misunderstand a key european flavor/conditioning, if it is it really means that it is heavily catered to the UK scene however you want to put it. If your only reason for not changing is that you have issues with google juice, then maybe you have made your own estimation and indeed the rest of Europe isn’t worth that expense.
    I don’t want to sound negative, but if one were to access the US techcrunch site only through:



    I am pretty sure that your google juice would suffer as a result and people could rightfully argue, like you do, that it does not matter since whatever you cover is born in large part in Silicon Valley. However, for different reasons, I can bet that this defacto geolocation in your URL would be rectified in short order.



  • Steve

    I was seriously considering setting something like this up in London myself. Things like Citizen Space and other startup focused coworking areas would work perfectly in London, and this move can only be a good thing for helping companies form in the capital.

    Hopefully we’ll get some information about pricing etc.. soon, as it sounds mighty tempting!

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