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The next 10 years: Inclusive innovation district SHIFT launches


SHIFT, the world’s most inclusive innovation district launches today on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in east London

  • SHIFT will bring together the public and private sectors, education and local communities with innovative enterprises and tech companies helping to solve some of the biggest challenges facing London and cities around the world
  • The district will turn the Park into an urban testbed for new processes and technologies on the 10 year anniversary of the London Olympic and Paralympic Games
  • The launch of SHIFT is to be announced at the official closing ceremony of London Tech Week at Here East on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
  • SHIFT is calling for brilliant, fearless entrepreneurs, investors, and commissioners to join in a spirit of collaboration and creativity, exploration and experimentation

SHIFT, the world’s most inclusive innovation district launches today on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in east London – a hub that is internationally recognised for innovation and one of the most successful Olympic and Paralympic legacies.

SHIFT will be London’s living testbed for creating better urban futures. With a mission to solve some of the pressing issues of 21st century city living, it will drive inclusive innovation in climate adaptation and resilience, health and wellbeing and advanced mobility solutions. The district will bring significant economic value to the area and will drive further job creation in the region.

SHIFT is launched by seven core partners – University of the Arts London, UCL (University College London), Loughborough University London, Here East, Plexal, Lendlease and the London Legacy Development Corporation.

The founding partners of SHIFT work with more than 250 knowledge-intensive organisations on the Park, 5% of which are large scale international firms alongside a strong start-up and entrepreneurial scene that has more than doubled in size since 2017. SHIFT will also be working closely with local community organisations and strong leadership from local authority partners at London Boroughs of Newham, Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest.

The legacy of the London 2012 Games continues with an additional 53,000 sqm of workspace projected in the area alongside 33,000 new homes, 40,000 jobs, 10 million visitors a year and a student base of more than 10,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students.

July 2022 marks the 10 year anniversary of the London 2012 Games, and SHIFT will build on the success of the Park to date and will lead the next ten years of growth and opportunity in east London.

The Park already has a strong culture of innovation and significant strengths in advanced mobility, inclusive design and assistive technology, cyber security, AI and digital design and e-sports – attracting in excess of £200m of investment to date.

The launch of SHIFT reflects the ambition to continue this success and create an inclusive innovation district focused on bringing together business leaders, entrepreneurs, researchers and the local community to find and fund solutions to the questions around how we live together in cities of the future.

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: “London has built a reputation as a world leader in technology and innovation, and it’s inspiring to see the digital and creative industries joining forces in East London in the new SHIFT innovation district. I couldn’t be prouder to be Mayor of a city that has become a global example of an impactful Olympic legacy, and I look forward to watching the district continue to thrive and develop over the next ten years as we build a better London for everyone.”

SHIFT will use the unique attributes of the Park to trial new technologies that will build better, healthier and more sustainable places for the future and improve quality of living for city residents. For example, a recent innovation trial with the hearing wellness platform Mumbli to study and improve hearing quality within public venues. Or work underway to test e-walkers to reduce “white-van traffic” by providing a low carbon, localised delivery solution.

SHIFT will focus on inclusive innovation projects that include local communities and citizens in their design, testing and delivery. Local people from Newham, Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest will benefit from the training and skills programmes and job opportunities as well as the end outputs and opening opportunities to support entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds.

SHIFT joins the already thriving London tech industry – which has attracted £25.5bn of venture capital investment in the past year, according to data from London and Partners. As part of the official closing ceremony for London Tech Week 2022 – the launch of SHIFT represents a major commitment to the future of London as a world-class tech hub that is solving our biggest challenges yet.

SHIFT is inviting new partnerships, entrepreneurs and investors to come together in a spirit of collaboration to work together on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Gavin Poole, CEO of Here East comments:

“Ten years ago, the vision for Here East was born and over the last decade it has grown and developed in ways we could never imagine – most notably when it comes to the ways we support the wider East London community. SHIFT is part of the next chapter, and the evolution of the community and digital economy that we have cultivated here. It’s brilliant to launch SHIFT in a week that holds such significance for the tech community here in London – the culmination of another brilliant London Tech Week.”

Emma Frost, Director of Innovation, SHIFT said:

“The opportunity to develop a genuine urban testbed at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, with a focus on inclusive innovation is unparalleled internationally. Global climate, economic, and social crises pose a threat to the way cities function. But cities are also fundamental to finding solutions and citizens and tech companies can act as first responders in the climate emergency. Here, on the Park we have the chance to enable innovation projects that seek to solve some of these challenges and to change the innovation ecosystem for the better, too. We are thrilled to be launching SHIFT with our valued partners and look forward to the journey ahead.”

Philip Glanville, Mayor of Hackney, said:

“We have already seen the incredible physical transformation that London 2012 brought to East London – ten years on, it’s vital that we use this to create a genuine, long-lasting and inclusive legacy for local people, and the launch of SHIFT is a major boost to the work the host boroughs and the LLDC are already doing to maximise the opportunities created at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
“Innovation, creativity and the arts are at the heart of the institutions and businesses coming together, and through SHIFT we must ensure that students, visitors and workforce using them truly reflect our diverse communities and that local residents and businesses are among the first to benefit from the huge opportunities coming to our doorstep.”

Councillor Khan, Waltham Forest Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Housing and Regeneration said:

“As one of the Olympics’ host boroughs in 2012, Waltham Forest has enjoyed the transformative opportunities for business innovation and growth generated by the Games and its legacy. SHIFT will help push forward this legacy of innovation, and we can’t wait to see the benefits spread to our businesses and residents. SHIFT will tackle the climate crisis and health inequalities, and it champions active travel and business innovation – these aims chime with Waltham Forest’s priorities as a council and make them a perfect partner for us.”

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