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Future Cities Forum to hold 'Innovation Cities' at Here East in September

Above aerial view of Here East campus and Stratford, photograph courtesy of Jason Hawkes

Future Cities Forum is delighted to be holding its September housing, communities and innovation event at Plexal, Here East in London. Here East is located in London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, where the hub says its invites ' innovators, disruptors, visionaries and like-minded people to share – and participate – in the making of game-changing innovation.' Here East was designed from the outset to operate as a catalyst for change and a pillar of the post-Olympic East London community.

The event will look at the future for investment in joined-up innovation and cultural districts, the benefits for communities in terms of education, jobs and housing. Here East says it is a ' dedicated campus, for innovators, disruptors, visionaries and locals to push their professional and personal boundaries; to surround themselves with some of the world’s most inspiring artists and performers; to build on the Olympics’ architectural and cultural legacy. Already, 6,000-plus people call Here East home, and many more will follow.' During the London 2012 Olympics, the Broadcast and Press Centres were a 24-hour media hub for an estimated four billion people, providing studio space for many nationalities and some 30,000 journalists. These buildings boasted' unprecedented space, connectivity and power' – features Here East was keen to exploit in the design of a new campus, enhanced further still by East London’s unique heritage and innovation tradition:

'Here, people, culture and ideas collide; creating a breeding ground for ground-breaking ideas and a catalyst for long-term economic growth in the area', it states.

The innovation hub says it believes innovation starts with education and results in meaningful change. So the spaces it has designed are made to nurture culture, entrepreneurship and enterprise at every turn:

'Education breeds innovation. Without it, we inhibit fresh perspectives and unique talent. Our universities and academic partners Loughborough University London, UCL, Staffordshire Digital Institute London, LMA and Teesside University London are proof of the fact. At Here East, global businesses and scaling companies work side by side, feeding off and fuelling one another in their day-to-day. We are the UK’s largest incubator for start-ups, with the tools and resources to enable enterprises of all sizes to grow. Ask BT Sport or Hobs 3D. We’re surrounded with world-class cultural institutions, artists and retailers who imbue the campus environment with ambition and creativity. Take visionaries like Studio Wayne McGregor and the V&A’s collection and research centre as a testament to that. We aim to bring long-term economic improvements to East London; to be a kind and progressive neighbour to this multilingual, multicultural, and multi-talented community.

'Plexal is our innovation centre and coworking space. It combines open innovation and a community of fast-growth start-ups to help enterprises and government unlock the potential of technology. Plexal’s workspace is home to over 800 innovators working across technology, cybersecurity, mobility, inclusive design, healthtech, AI and more. Members get access to regular community events and one-to-one financial consultations. Plus Plexal’s management and innovation teams are on hand to provide tailored advice. Whether that’s to make an introduction, collaborate on a project or help founders overcome a specific business challenge.'

Hawk London is an example of a company that has recently joined the cast of creators and collaborators based on campus at Here East. Hawk is an industry leader in high-end cinematography. Well known in the sector, their products are highly sought after by directors of photography and those involved in film making, especially for large screen formats. Hawk has worked on major motion projects ranging from Star Wars to The Little Mermaid.

Future Cities Forum will be discussing the importance of studio space for the booming creative industries in the UK and Fred Pilbrow of Pilbrow & Partners, who is in conversation with Here East about designing new studios, will be joining our event to describe the potential plans.

CEO of Here East, Gavin Poole, was asked at our March forum held at the British Film Institute whether the developments at Here East could be accused of adopting outside investment and companies that do not resonate with local communities? He responded:

'No, I don't think so. It has taken a lot of work over the last eleven years and courage from the owners and investors to listen to us at Here East when we have declined (potential occupier) offers because it doesn't fit in with the vision of the community or the educational future that we want for the site. If we deviate from our vision, we are off message and we need to continually commit to that. That is where we drive the value from my shareholders and providing what we think is appropriate. We are about regeneration for social change - social change using buildings. Our biggest cohort of students are the newer diverse. Yes, we have the Bartlett (School of Architecture) here but we are also providing courses in music and dance, e-sports and animation, apprenticeships not just degrees and for young people who may be the first in their families to go to university. Teesside University is opening up this year with courses in AI, the Metaverse and the virtual world.

'We wanted to include the existing communities in the place from the start bringing F&B and retail in and opening up well before the site started to emerge and supporting the community by creating democratic streets. Everything we do is only with the permission of the community and the boroughs. We have a lot of community engagement. We have insight days when five hundred kids come in to see what opportunities there are.'

Gavin will be making the opening introduction to our event which will also include contributions from, among others, the V&A, Homes England and the Infrastructure & Projects Authority.

Below: Here East's CEO, Gavin Poole (courtesy: Here East)


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