Supporting places of work: incubators, accelerators, co-working spaces

Date published: 
12 September 2014

City Hall appointed URS, Ramidus, #1Seed and Gort Scott to carry out research into the supply of existing Incubators, Accelerators and Co-working (IAC) spaces in London.

This was fully funded by the LEP SME budget, and was the first study into the emerging sector of this kind. The main research questions were:

  • what are the existing facilities across London?
  • do these facilities have a positive impact on business success rates and growth?
  • are there models that work better than others?
  • are there geographical or sectorial gaps?
  • what interventions should the public sector undertake?​

The report identified:

  • 34 Incubators, 16 Accelerators, 112 Co-working Spaces operating in London
  • IACs as a relatively recent phenomenon, with half of IACs surveyed having been established in the past two years (2012-14), and a further third established 3-5 years ago (2011-2009)
  • the majority of the IACs are located in four inner London boroughs (Westminster, Camden, Islington, and Hackney), with a particular concentration in and around Tech City
  • outer London has less IACs, with existing spaces tending to be provided by local authorities, charities and other third sector bodies. This is in clear contrast to the predominance of private sector providers characterising inner London IACs
  • IACs have tended to provide B1 office space, although there is an emerging sector of shared workspaces and incubators providing access to more specialised workspace and equipment, such as the QMB Innovation Centre, which provides high-spec lab space to science and technology companies, and Blackhorse Workshop, which provides shared bench space, power tools and machines to both professional craftspeople and enthused hobbyists

The report recommends the creation of a workspace provider network, through which IACs can inform emerging workspace policies, share learnings, and engage with boroughs and developers. The report also recommends the creation of an online interactive map to make IAC spaces visible to Londoners.

The report concludes that any future public sector investment should focus on IACs with clear community outreach goals (e.g. providing training for disadvantaged groups, providing subsidised workspace) as well as being combined with wider initiatives to maximise public outcome.