Following Entrepreneur Visa Approval, TechStars London Finds A Permanent Home In The UK

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TechStars London, the UK outpost of Boulder, U.S.-based uber-accelerator TechStars after it merged with Jon Bradford’s Springboard, has announced that its found a permanent home at newly-established Warner Yard, a co-working space owned by early-stage fund Playfair Capital.

Why is this news, you may ask. Well, not only does it means that teams will now get up to 6 months free office space in the UK’s capital city, rather than just the 3 months they are on the program, but it follows the recent news that TechStars London has been approved as a Recognised Seed Competition, smoothing the way for participants to qualify for a UK Entrepreneur Visa. This means, I hasten to add, that TechStars London startups are far more likely to stay located in London long after they graduate.

Zooming out a bit more, it also adds further weight to London’s claim as a leading tech hub, espoused by the British government’s Tech City project (now led by Joanna Shields, ex-Google, AOL/Bebo, and most recently Facebook’s head of EMEA operations), alongside the network effects that have grown out of the organic “Silicon Roundabout” tech cluster in East London, which has seen the likes of Google and Amazon invest in the area.

warner-yard-3The official announcement says TechStars London’s new base is located in “the heart of Tech City”, though in a later statement Jon Bradford, Managing Director of TechStars London, describes Warner Yard as “close” to Tech City, proving that nobody knows for sure where the UK government’s branding for the London tech scene starts and ends. For those who are familiar with London, Warner Yard is actually in Clerkenwell. Due to open on the 29th of May, it will feature 154 desks over 4 floors including 5 quiet booths, 4 meeting rooms, 3 kitchens and space for presentations and pitching. It will be open 24 hours a day and will house both PlayFair Capital’s portfolio companies, and external companies — including TechStars London, of course, who will also use the space to host events for the wider community and provide hot-desking facilities for TechStars alumni.

In a further boost to the local ecosystem, the new co-working space, which is modelled on Passion Capital’s nearby White Bear Yard, is being targeted at early-stage investors and angels as an alternative to hot-desking at various coffee shops in London. At launch, it’s signed up EC1 Capital, #1Seed, Hotspur Capital Partners, Ballpark Ventures, Doug Scott and Richard Fearn — a sign of more cozying up by London’s investment community.

Here’s Bradford’s statement in full: “Finding the right environment for TechStars London has been a priority since our launch. Warner Yard provides both TechStars London teams a great central location being close to both TechCity and also the West End with an awesome environment alongside other seed funded companies for the duration of the programme and also immediate run out period.”

Meanwhile, applications for TechStars London close on 5th of May 2013. Startups interested in applying can come from anywhere, not just Europe, but must physically come to London for the three-month program. In total, €85k of funding is up for grabs per team, though the majority of this is a convertible note.

However, funding mechanics aside, the fact that the accelerator’s investment in each startup crosses the £50k mark, combined with TechStars London’s newly acquired Recognised Seed Competition status, means that its entrepreneurs have sufficient “points” to qualify for a UK Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Visa.

Here’s how TechStars describes the win:

The approval will allow TechStars London teams from outside of the EU, to work in the UK for up to 3 years and towards the end of this period, can apply to extend their stay by a further 2 years if they want to continue living here. Furthermore teams, after 3 years have the right to apply for permission to settle in the UK if their business has created at least 10 new full-time jobs in the UK. Partners and children of the teams can also apply for settlement.