Tech and creative sectors providing growth opportunities for West London

The strength of West London’s tech and creative industries in West London has been discussed at this year’s Capital West London Build & Recover Summit.

At the New World, New Economy session, Lloyd Lee, Managing Partner of Yoo Capital, who opened the session with a presentation on the £1bn Olympia project, was joined by Michelle Jenkins of Film London, Katie Bell from Middlesex University, Prema Gurunathan from Upstream and Neil Brigden of London & Partners.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and economic slowdown, Mr Brigden reported there was still an interest in London as an FDI inward investment destination, commenting on the strength of the technology-rich innovation sectors for the sub-region.

“There is a lot of positivity around. This is very much around technology around innovation, and high growth companies, attracting them to London,” he said, adding the pandemic had demonstrated the importance technology and the role it was playing in society of today, with growth around cybersecurity, video conferencing and software.

And looking ahead, Ms Gurunathan’s said she was banking on people’s appetite for a new renewed cultural lease of life to help West London’s economy bounce back.

“I think the positive side is that we are people they’re social human beings we like culture, and we like going to the theatre. We like going to the cinema and I suppose I’m banking on their appetite for a renewed cultural lease on life that people go out and spend money and help rebuild this beautiful thing that we’ve got in London, which is not just heritage, but also a great future.”

Ms Gurunathan and Mr Brigden said fintech companies were continuing to do well, while West London’s creative industries, after seeing a halt in March, were beginning to pick up again.

Ms Jenkins said the “thirst for content” had “rocketed” through lockdown, with people watching TV instead of being able to get out, and that production companies were back to work.

“They’re all desperate to come back and in fact more so, because they’re basically trying to fit a year’s worth of production into five months.
We’ve been fortunate that we’ve got straight back into it, we devised guidelines that were COVID-secure, got them to government and on 1 June got sign off that we could go back to work. And we’ve not stopped since.

“It’s full pelt.”

Ms Jenkins also said the fact that crews were based in the sub-region was a reason work was coming in as international producers needed to know an expert crew would be working on their production.

And there continues to be a huge demand for space from companies including Apple, Amazon, Netflix, HBO and NBC – and the more of those that come, and stay, will enable the talent in the area to say, with benefits on secondary spend businesses in the sub-region.

Ms Bell said partnership working between the industry and providers would help retain skills in the area and help engage students, saying: “The closer we get to what the opportunities are, the more likely it is that we will excite and engage students and many more learners instantly, because they’ll see those opportunities not just from a learning perspective but also from what they can go on and achieve through their jobs.

“And then if we can encourage them to stay. Then we are building our own inclusive indigenous communities, that becomes a sustainable and future workforce.”

Mr Lee agreed, adding when discussing training opportunities: “We don’t want to make stuff up as we go. We’d rather ask the people who know.

“The most important thing we’ve found is the leap between pure education and actual on the job training is the biggest gulf that challenges everyone today. Unfortunately, a lot of people cannot afford to bring on employees and people coming out of school are struggling to find proper employment.”

Mr Lee added that they were looking at industry-based education opportunities at Olympia, along with working with those companies calling Olympia home to provide internship programmes to local residents and potentially providing mentorship programmes run by local residents.

“That for us, has been really exciting and I think you’ll find that that for us has been the most direct route of delivering on that need.”

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